Injuries to the hand and wrist are some of the most common problems facing athletes. If diagnosed and properly treated, however, they can heal without remaining disability, allowing for full resumption of activity.
Injuries to the hand are categorized as either traumatic (acute) or overuse (chronic). Fractures, broken bones, dislocated joints and ligament tears are examples of common traumatic injury, while nerve injuries and prolonged wrist pain can result from overuse.
Traumatic injuries are more common for those involved in sports that include contact such as football and wrestling; while chronic injury can result from repetitive motions in sports, such as golf or tennis.
Specific examples include skier’s thumb, which is a tear of the ligament at the base of the thumb that occurs when the thumb is bent backwards, resulting from a fall; tennis elbow; golfer’s elbow, which affects the tendon on the inner side of the elbow as opposed to the outside, which is seen in tennis elbow; De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (wrist tendonitis) and wrist fractures (such as in snowboarding or skateboard falls).
The important component of these injuries is proper evaluation and diagnosis. An experienced elbow or hand surgeon can determine the extent of the injury, whether X-rays are needed, how they are interpreted, and what the next steps are. Treatment of these sports injuries ranges from realignment and/or immobilization, to bracing or splinting (of jammed fingers, for example), as well as medication, injections, rehabilitation and surgery when necessary.