Athletes’ Guide To Common Hand & Wrist Injuries: Symptoms & Treatments
Bringing your A-game to every match is of the essence as an athlete but this also means putting yourself at greater risk of suffering a sports injury.
While both acute and chronic sports injuries can occur in any part of the body, your hands and wrists are especially susceptible.
Thus, it is important to seek prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term problems or permanent disabilities that will affect your performance.
Here are some of the common hand and wrist injuries to take note of, including the symptoms and treatment options available so you know when to visit a hand specialist – keep reading to find out more.
1. Bowler’s thumb
As the name suggests, a bowler’s thumb typically occurs in bowlers and is caused by compression of the ulnar digital nerve on the inner aspect of the thumb. Bowlers who try to put a lot of spin on the ball or experience a tight fit when putting the thumb in the hole of a bowling ball are at higher risk. If left untreated, a bowler’s thumb can exacerbate due to repeated friction and cause problems even when you are not bowling. You may experience numbness and tingles at the end of the thumb, pain in the inner thumb and weakness when pinching things.
In most cases, a hand specialist will recommend conservative treatments like taking adequate rest and wearing assistive devices to relieve nerve compression. Hand surgery to offer nerve compression relief is usually only suggested if therapeutic measures fail to provide sufficient results.
2. Skier’s thumb
One of the most common causes of a skier’s thumb is falling while holding a ski pole, creating a force strong enough to stress the thumb, stretching or tearing the ligament. The symptoms such as swelling of the thumb and bruising of the skin over the thumb can occur minutes to hours after suffering the injury so make sure to look out for them.
It is key to seek immediate medical attention by visiting a hand specialist if you suspect you have suffered a skier’s thumb. If the ligament has been examined to be partially torn, a splint or cast may be prescribed. However, hand surgery may be required if the ligament is completely torn, especially in the presence of a Stener lesion (which can only be diagnosed with an MRI of the thumb).
3. Tennis Elbow
Although anybody can develop a tennis elbow, athletes like tennis players are even more vulnerable to the condition because of the repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Repeated contraction of the forearm muscles can result in tiny tears in the tendons that cause pain or weakness when you try to grip an object, for example.
Thankfully, about 80 to 95% of patients experience an improvement in symptoms with non-surgical treatments like taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, and undergoing hand therapy to strengthen the muscles in the forearm. Your hand specialist may recommend open or arthroscopic surgery to remove diseased muscle and reattach healthy muscle if symptoms do not improve after 6 to 12 months.
4. Trigger Finger
Trigger finger – a condition in which one of the fingers gets locked in a bent position, limiting movement and resulting in pain and tenderness – is especially common in golfers. It occurs when the protective sheath, which our tendons glide through, becomes thickened, causing constriction around the tendon and resulting in it becoming irritated and swollen. Trigger finger affects golfers as they have to repeatedly grip and swing the golf club with force. Some symptoms you may experience include difficulty bending and straightening the affected finger and stiffness.
Trigger finger treatment in Singapore is typically non-surgical, such as wearing a splint, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or a steroid injection and doing gentle stretching exercises. If surgery is deemed to be necessary by your hand specialist, a trigger finger release will be performed to allow the flexor tendon to glide more easily through the tendon sheath.
5. Wrist Fracture
Wrist fractures are very common in athletes and sports where collisions and falls occur frequently. As it is humans’ natural instinct to break a fall with their hands, falling on an outstretched hand can cause the distal radius, one of the most commonly broken bones in the upper limb, to fracture. You will notice immediate pain, tenderness, bruising and swelling with a wrist fracture.
A cast may be applied if the broken bone is in a good position but surgery may be required to hold the bone in the correct position if the bone has been displaced. Speak to a hand and wrist specialist in Singapore as soon as possible after suffering a wrist fracture.
6. Jammed Finger
Commonly seen in basketball players, a jammed finger occurs when the tip of the finger is pushed back toward the hand, usually when you try to catch a ball but the ball smashes into the tip of your finger instead. Even if the force is not large enough to fracture your finger, the jam can still cause your finger to swell up.
When you visit a hand specialist for a jammed finger, they may immobilise it with a splint or suggest further imaging to rule out a fracture or torn ligament.
See a hand specialist in Singapore today for your hand and wrist injuries
Do not wait till your condition worsens before seeking treatment – early intervention is crucial to help you get back to playing sports with ease once again.
Here at Advanced Hand, Wrist & Nerve Centre, our hand specialist Dr. Jacqueline Tan, is committed to providing you with the most appropriate treatment for any hand and wrist injuries.