Sports Wrist and Hand Injuries
Your hands and wrists are vital to participation in almost every sport. They are subject to in several common sports injuries.
It’s important to have a background in some of the most common wrist and hand injuries that occur from sports-related activities.
The hands and wrists contain many bones. These structures are held together by soft tissues called ligaments.
Ligaments are strong and flexible. When overused, they can stretch too far or possibly even tear.
Wrist sprains are divided into three separate categories called grades. Grade One is the least severe and occurs when ligaments are stretched but not torn. Grade Two events happen when ligaments tear partially. The ligaments completely tear or are detached from surrounding bones during Grade Three occurrences.
Sports that commonly result in sprains are those in which the wrist is used continually. The most common examples are racquet sports like tennis. But simply falling or twisting your wrist the wrong way can result in injury.
The most outward sign of a sprain is discomfort in the impacted wrist. Other occurrences might include:
- A popping or clicking sensation inside the wrist.
- The feeling of warmth on associated skin.
Typically, wrist sprains are also quite tender to the touch.
Sprains might mimic other potentially more serious injuries such as bone fractures. Seek immediate medical evaluation when displaying any of the symptoms.
Your doctor will likely first carefully examine your wrist for swelling and other abnormalities. Ligament damage is typically confirmed using imaging tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (M.R.I.) or computerized tomography (C.T. scans).
Treatment will depend on what grade your sprain is. Less severe events often respond to home care. Severe occurrences may need surgery.
Grade One sprains often respond well to a first-aid technique known as R.I.C.E.: Resting the injured wrist, applying Ice, Compressing damaged ligaments to prevent unnecessary movement, and Elevating the injury above your heart to stimulate blood flow to the wounded area.
Over-the-counter medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often abbreviated as NSAIDs, can bring any associated swelling down and provide pain relief.
Grade Two events may necessitate placing your wrist inside stability-inducing gear like splints for specific timeframes.
Additionally, physical therapy may prove beneficial. If physical therapy is prescribed, you will perform specially designed exercises designed to recapture your injured wrist’s strength and range of motion.
Grade Three sprains often need surgery. Two types of operations are performed – re-attachment and reconstruction.
If possible, surgeons reattach the damaged ligament to the bone it is separated from. If the ligament is completely torn and beyond repair, a surgical team may construct a new ligament and insert it in place of the damaged tissues.
Both the hands and wrists contain many bones of varying sizes, placed in various locations.
Certain actions could result in broken bones. In medical terms, bone breaks are called fractures.
There are two types of fractures. Non-displaced fractures are where the affected bone is broken but does not shift out of position. Displaced fractures occur when broken bones move from their original location.
In sports, fractures usually occur following some type of blunt force trauma like a collision or fall.
The symptoms you experience depend on where the fracture occurred and the event’s severity. Certain common symptoms include:
- Moderate to severe pain in the afflicted appendage.
- Mobility problems.
In more severe instances, you might notice numbness and visible bone abnormalities.
When significant outward signs like bone deformities occur, diagnosis is relatively straightforward. In most cases, diagnostic imaging tests will be needed.
The fracture’s severity will dictate treatment. Surgical intervention may be indicated for moderate to severe breaks.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
The primary course of treatment for mild breaks is immobilization. Placing your injured hand into a splint or cast holds the bone in position and speeds up the healing process.
Your doctor might also prescribe over-the-counter or prescription pain medications and a course of physical therapy once the bone has healed sufficiently enough to resume any type of exercise.
Surgical procedures are often indicated to repair broken bones and, in instances of displacement, return the bones to their correct position.
As tendons age or are overused, they can develop inflammation. Doctors refer to this condition as tendonitis.
Participation in almost any sport that requires you to use your hands or wrists repeatedly can increase your chances of developing tendonitis. The condition can follow some type of quick, forceful incident or happen chronically from continual overextension and weakening.
The most obvious symptom is pain. Because tendons are long and flexible, such discomfort may extend to other areas like your forearm or fingers. You might also have swelling and tenderness.
More serious occurrences may also produce mobility issues and weakness. Inflamed tendons sometimes impact neighboring nerves, which can lead to numbness.
Your doctor will first thoroughly examine your wrist, hand, and forearm for any clear anomalies. They may also perform tests designed to measure your range of motion and flexibility. Occasionally, imaging tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Less severe cases typically improve after employing home care methods. The most seriously inflamed tendons might need surgery.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
The R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation) combined with immobilization often works. Long periods of limited or no movement can stiffen tendons. Physical therapy can alleviate this potential side effect. Over-the-counter medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve) can relieve your discomfort. Corticosteroids can also reduce swelling and pain.
Should the before mentioned remedies not provide improvement, you might need to undergo a surgery called tendon sheath release. This procedure is performed to lessen the pressure and constriction placed on affected tendons.
If you compete in sports requiring optimally functioning hands and wrists, any of the preceding sports wrist and hand injuries can significantly limit your quality of life. Fortunately, such issues are treatable. Talk to your Florida Orthopaedic Institute physician today to learn more about sports wrist and hand injuries.