Published 10/5/2020

Don’t Let Halloween Injuries Creep Up on You

Orthopaedic surgeons share tips for avoiding ‘Halloween hand’ injuries

ROSEMONT, Ill. (October 5, 2020)—No matter what your Halloween plans look like this year, it is important to keep in mind community health officials’ guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The experts at The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) also suggest keeping a watchful eye on activities that can cause bone and joint injuries.

“Trick-or-treating safety during the pandemic may be the current talk of the town, but it is just as important to remember that many traditional Halloween activities can lead to spooky injuries,” explains orthopaedic hand surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Amy Ladd, MD, FAAOS. “Hand injuries due to pumpkin carving can result in serious cuts as well as injuries to the bones, tendons and nerves. The most common pumpkin carving injury is a cut finger tendon in the hand that is holding the pumpkin when the knife slips. Consider ditching the knives and opting for paint and stickers. This will eliminate potential injuries to the hand.”

If deciding to take part in traditional pumpkin carving, the AAOS recommends the following Halloween safety tips:

  • Use a pumpkin carving kit or knives specifically designed for carving. These are less likely to get stuck in thick pumpkin skin. Some Halloween carving devices, designed especially for older children, may be safe for use with parental supervision.
  • Carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area, and make sure there is no moisture on the carving tools or your hands.
  • If you are cut, apply pressure with a clean cloth and elevate the injured area above the heart. If bleeding does not stop within 10-15 minutes or if the cut is deep, you may need to contact your doctor. Make sure cuts are cleaned and covered with clean bandages.
  • Avoid candles in Halloween pumpkins and other decorations. Instead, use non-flammable light sources, like glow sticks or artificial pumpkin lights.

The Halloween fun doesn’t stop with jack-o-lanterns. Haunted houses, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving are just a few other fun activities this season brings. The AAOS suggests that revelers of all ages be mindful of costume safety. Costume mishaps can easily turn into bumps, bruises or even sprains or fractures.

“Reduce risk of injury this season by selecting a properly fitted costume to avoid tripping,” explains Dr. Ladd. “Choosing a bright-colored costume will make it easier to be seen at dusk and avoiding a full-face Halloween mask while opting for your COVID-19 face mask is a great way to avoid disrupting vision.”

While out and about this Halloween, the AAOS recommends the following tips to prevent trick-or-treating-related injuries:

  • Children younger than age 12 should be accompanied by an adult. Parents of older children should plan a safe trick-or-treating route together and set specific times for children to check-in and return home.
  • Older children trick-or-treating without parents should be reminded to always stay together.
  • Walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways.
  • Cross streets at designated crosswalks and obey all traffic signals.
  • Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
  • Approach houses that are well lit. Remind children to never enter a home to obtain a treat.
  • Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating. Remember that these pets can pose a threat when you approach their home.
  • Carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure to throw away any unwrapped or spoiled treats.

For more Halloween-safety bone and joint tips visit,

To schedule an interview with an AAOS expert about common musculoskeletal injuries resulting from Halloween fun, email

About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level to best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

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Contact AAOS Media Relations 

Deanna Killackey 


Lauren Riley