Hand Wrist and Elbow Sports Injuries
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Hand, wrist, or elbow injuries are often caused by repetitive motions and overuse. Inflammation of the tendons, nerve damage or stress fractures may occur with these injuries. The healing process may prevent you from enjoying sports and recreational activities, accomplishing work-related tasks, or completing projects around your home.
Common hand, wrist and elbow sports injuries
The most common injuries are separated into two types: sudden (acute) injuries and overuse injuries.
Sudden (acute) injuries
People who participate in sports with high levels of contact, like baseball, football, wrestling or hockey, are more likely to suffer an acute injury. These injuries include the following:
- Ulnar collateral ligament tear (skier’s thumb) – a tear of the ligament at the base of the thumb.
- Wrist fracture – typically the breaking of a scaphoid or distal radius, which is one of the small bones in the wrist. This may occur when falling on an outstretched hand.
- Finger dislocations – the finger is displaced from the joint.
- Jammed finger – a sprain to the finger joint. Also, this may be a dislocation based on the severity.
- Muscle strains and joint sprains
Overuse injuries may occur over a period of time. This type of injury is due to “overdoing” the same movement repeatedly and placing stress on the joints, muscles, tendons, etc. These injuries include the following:
- Tennis elbow – soreness or pain on the outside of the upper arm, closest to the elbow.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – pain or weakness in the hand or wrist, which develops from nerve problems.
- Golfer’s elbow – pain on the inside of the elbow (similar to tennis elbow).
- De Quervain’s syndrome – chronic pain of the tendons around the thumb, which may cause difficulty when gripping.
Symptoms and treatment of hand, wrist, and elbow sports injuries
Symptoms of hand, wrist, and elbow injuries may include the following:
- Severe pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Abnormal twisting or bending of the hand or finger
- Numbness or tingling
When you are first injured, the Henry Ford Sports Medicine team recommends the RICE method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
When to contact a doctor
Contact a doctor immediately if
- Bleeding from a cut does not slow or if bleeding lasts longer than 15 minutes.
- You suspect that you have a broken bone.
Contact your doctor if pain or symptoms persist after the RICE home treatment. A doctor can diagnose your hand, wrist or elbow injury by conducting a physical exam, taking x-rays, and reviewing your symptoms and medical history.
Non-surgical treatments may include treatments at home, such as rest, physical therapy to help strengthen your hand, wrist or elbow and increase flexibility, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Surgical treatment for a hand, wrist or elbow injury may be considered if all non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted. Your Henry Ford doctor will personalize your treatment based on your needs.
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