Sports enrich our lives in a number of ways. They provide tremendous health and psychological benefits, helping to keep us fit, energized, and healthy.
Unfortunately though, sports also carry the chance of injury. Hand and wrist injuries are especially common among athletes –particularly those who participate in high-risk sports.
An injury can be caused by a wrong maneuver, a hard fall, or even overuse. While injuries can’t always be prevented, there are precautions that you can take to help lower the chance of an injury occurring –especially when it comes to overuse injuries.
Here are some of the most common sports-related hand and wrist injuries, as well as treatment options –and ways to reduce the chance of injury.
Common injuries generally fall into one of two different categories: traumatic (acute) or overuse (chronic).
There is an increased risk of traumatic injury for those who play sports that involve a significant amount of contact with other players. Sports such as hockey, football, or wrestling tend to result in more traumatic injuries, including:
- Muscle Strains
- Joint Dislocations
- Tendon Inflammation
- Ligament Tears
- Fracture Injuries in the Fingers
Chronic injuries are stress-induced injuries, caused by overuse. These injuries are more common in sports that require repetitive motions. Baseball, tennis, and golf are sports that carry a risk of chronic injuries.
- Tendonitis (Tendon Inflammation, Irritation, or Tear)
- Tendon Dislocation
- Nerve Injuries
- Stress Fractures
While chronic injuries are less likely to result in long-term disability than traumatic injuries, it is still vitally important to seek treatment.
When left untreated, chronic injuries can impact an athlete’s performance. In some cases, surgery may be required– especially in cases where the injury persists and other treatment options have proven to be unsuccessful.
What Causes Sport-Related Hand Injuries?
Anytime you play a sport, there is a chance of injury.
Most sports involve close contact with other players, as well as sports equipment, increasing the chance of accidental collision or impact. Even for those who don’t play high-risk sports, there is the risk of chronic (overuse) injuries from repeating the same motions, either during practice or while playing.
Treatment options vary depending on the extent and location of the injury. Here are some common injuries, and treatment that is generally recommended.
- Muscle Strains and Sprains – Muscle strains and sprains that aren’t severe are generally treated with rest, and compression.
- Ligament Tears – A ligament tear generally requires a doctor’s visit. In most cases, X-rays will be taken, and casting will be done. In some cases surgery may be required, depending on the location and extent of the tear.
- Joint Dislocation – Dislocated joints (such as fingers) are common. If you’ve dislocated a joint, the doctor will reset the joint. It may require an X-ray evaluation, or even surgery. In some cases, you may be able to use buddy tape or a splint, depending on the location.
- Tendonitis – Tendonitis is usually treated with rest, ice, and by limiting repetitive movement. You may also be given some over the counter pain medication to help relax your muscles, and allow them to heal.
- Stress Fractures – Stress fractures, commonly caused by repetitive motion, are generally treated with rest. However, an X-ray or bone scan is usually recommended to ensure that the bone hasn’t been broken. Depending on the extent of the injury, you may be required to refrain from sports until it has completely healed.
While it isn’t always possible to prevent an injury, there are preventative measures that can be taken to help reduce the chance of injury. Some techniques that help prevent injury include:
- Maintaining good posture
- Wearing proper gear and equipment
- Taking breaks, and giving the body a chance to rest
- Practicing proper techniques
- Working with an athletic trainer
If you have suffered a sports-related hand or wrist injury, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to recommend treatment options and prescribe a safe level of activity that will help avoid further aggravation to the injury.