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non-freezing cold injury


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Tissue damage caused by cold without freezing. Non-freezing cold injuries (NFCIs) tend to affect areas of a limb more proximal than those affected by frostbite. NFCIs to the feet, known as trench feet, were frequent among soldiers living in wet trenches. Prolonged standing in seawater or walking through wet terrain in a cold environment can also result in NCFIs. These injuries are more likely if the limb is wet, and if the subject is dehydrated, malnourished, ill, or in poor physical condition. Primary treatment consists of removing the patient from the hostile environment, administering analgesics to relieve the pain, and bed rest. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory treatment for the long-term effects of NFCI. These may include chronic damage to muscles, nerves, cartilage, and bone. Preventative measures include limiting exposure to the cold (NFCI takes longer to develop than frost bite); taking hot drinks whenever possible; taking extreme care to keep feet as dry as possible; and awareness of early signs of injury (e.g. cold, swollen, and blotchy pink-purple or blanched feet that feel heavy and numb). See also frost bite.

Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.


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