Hand and wrist injuries account for approximately 25% of all sports injuries and are some of the most common injuries that athletes experience. Injuries of the hand and wrist can make daily tasks difficult both on and off the field. Prompt intervention is key when it comes to sports injuries, so knowing the signs and symptoms of these common hand and wrist injuries could be the difference between a few weeks in a cast and having to get surgery.
Here we will go over five common sports-related hand and wrist injuries, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Most common in sports like basketball that involve contact with a ball, a jammed finger is an acute injury caused by striking the end of the finger while it is fully extended.
Symptoms: Pain, swelling at the joint, difficulty bending and tenderness.
Treatment: Ice, rest and buddy taping to adjacent finger.
A scaphoid fracture is an acute injury resulting from the break in one of the small bones of the wrist. This sports injury is very common among football players and can be the result of falling onto an outstretched hand, putting all the weight onto the palm and hyperextending the wrist.
Symptoms: Pain, swelling and tenderness in the area just below the base of the thumb. Pain may increase with movement of the thumb or wrist.
Treatment: Can range from splinting or casting to surgery, depending on the severity and location of the fracture. Displaced fractures will require surgery.
An acute injury of the ligament at the base of the thumb, skier’s thumb occurs when the thumb is bent backwards causing the ligament to tear. This injury can happen in any sport but received its name from skiers falling on their hand while gripping a ski pole, causing forced radial deviation of the thumb.
- Symptoms: Pain and tenderness at the base of the thumb, difficulty with mobility and pain with grasping objects.
- Treatment: Partial tears can be treated with a splint or cast for 4-6 weeks, but in some cases complete tears will require surgery.
Wrist Ligament Tear
A tear in the cartilage or ligaments in the wrist can be caused by an acute trauma or overuse. It is most commonly caused by a hard fall on an outstretched arm, causing the wrist to twist abnormally. Repetitive stress and movement of the wrist can also result in the tearing of the wrist’s cartilage away from the bone overtime.
- Symptoms: Pain and swelling of the wrist that increases with movement. In an acute injury, the wrist may be bruised or discolored.
- Treatment: Tears can be treated by immobilizing the wrist for 4-6 weeks with a cast or wrist brace. If the wrist is not stable and the injury is more severe, surgery may be necessary.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
A form of tendonitis, the overuse injury of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is the result of inflammation of the tendon that runs down the forearm, through the wrist and to the thumb. This injury of the hand and wrist is caused by sports that involve repetitive movements like golfing, tennis, or fly-fishing.
- Symptoms: Pain and tenderness at the side of the wrist beneath the base of the thumb.
- Treatment: Rest, ice, pain medication, physical therapy exercises for wrist pain and in some cases the use of a steroid injection.
Preventing Hand and Wrist Injuries
Sports-injuries can’t always be prevented, but there are some precautions you can take before stepping onto the field that will lower your risk of injury. Sports equipment and protective gear like wrist guards, gloves, and sports tape could prevent a traumatic hand or wrist injury. Routine stretching and proper rest can also lessen the severity of and prevent overuse injuries.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of sports-related injuries can help you know your limits and recognize when it is time to seek medical care. Whether you are a professional athlete or just like to spend your weekends on the golf course, it is important to see a doctor who specializes in sports medicine right away if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Severe pain and swelling
- Clicking or grating noise when moving your fingers, hands, or wrists
- Coldness or grayness in the finger, hand or wrist
To learn more about treatment options for sports-related hand and wrist injuries, book an appointment and visit our team at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre today.