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It seems like you can’t sign in to Pinterest or Instagram these days without being bombarded by avocado recipes. From avocado toast masterpieces that look too good to eat to blending avocados into everything from smoothies to brownies to salad dressing, there’s an avocado recipe for seemingly every taste bud.
If you’ve got a go-to guacamole recipe, chances are you know your way around cutting an avocado (if you don’t, we’ve got a handy video on how to cut avocado right here), but that hasn’t stopped a slew of home cooks from seriously injuring their hands in the process.
Avocado-related injuries, known by some as “avocado hand,” first made news last year after a U.K. newspaper reported an increase in emergency room visits from people trying to cut avocados. The injury again sparked conversation earlier this month after both The View co-host Joy Behar and a contestant from The Bachelorette suffered hospital-worthy injuries while trying to cut the fruit. (Here’s advice on how to pick out a ripe avocado.)
Most “avocado hand” incidents seem to occur when an avocado was held in a person’s non-dominant hand while using a knife grasped in their dominant hand to cut. The injury is a common cause of “tendon and nerve injury requiring hand surgery,” according to a report in the Irish Medical Journal.
“I’ve seen a number of injuries sustained when people accidentally push a knife or sharp object through their palm when trying to cut something,” says Steven A. Maser, MD, a hand surgeon and medical director of Orthopedic Surgery for Atlantic Health System in New Jersey. “If the object—like an avocado—slips, all the force that would have been used to cut the object goes right into the palm.” Ouuuuuch.
First of all, don’t feel bad because even the great Meryl Streep managed to experience an avocado hand injury back in 2012. Cutting your hand in this way may not look serious, Dr. Maser says, but there is a good chance you can injure your nerves or tendons. (Here’s how to treat small cuts the right way.)
Have you lost feeling in a finger? It’s possible you may have cut a nerve. If you can’t flex or bend a finger, it could mean you severed a tendon. Because avocado hand injuries often involve nerves or tendons, Dr. Maser suggests going to the emergency room as soon as possible in order to prevent infection and permanent damage. “The longer you wait, the less likely that (a surgical) repair will be successful,” he says.
Avocado hand injuries typically occur because a person is holding the avocado in their hand while they try to extract the pit. An easy way to avoid this painful mistake from happening: Simply place the avocado down on a surface (such as your counter or cutting board) while cutting. Now that you know how to successfully avoid the dreaded “avocado hand,” go ahead and enjoy all the health benefits avocados have to offer.