Sports Injuries of the Hand, Wrist and Elbow
What are Sports Injuries?
Sports injuries are injuries that most commonly occur during sports and exercises. These injuries may result from accidents, poor training practices, and use of improper protective gear, lack of conditioning, and insufficient warm-up and stretching. The sports injuries may be either acute (sprains, fractures, tears) or chronic (tendinitis, overuse injury) injuries.
Common Hand, Wrist and Elbow Sports Injuries
Some of the common sports injuries that may affect the hands and wrists include finger fracture, mallet finger, jammed finger, wrist sprains, tendinitis of the wrist, and Colles wrist fracture. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are the sports injuries involving the elbow joint.
Sports Injury Management
When you suffer an injury during sports events, never try to continue the activity in pain because it may cause further harm. Some injuries may require prompt attention by a doctor, while others can be treated at home.
You should seek medical treatment if:
- The injury is causing severe pain, swelling, or numbness
- You are not able to put any weight on the injured area
- The pain or dull ache of an old injury has increased along with swelling and joint instability
If you do not have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can adopt self-care treatment at home. You should follow the RICE method immediately after injury to relieve pain and inflammation. These steps should continue for at least 48 hours.
- Rest: You should take rest from regular exercises or daily activities as needed.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. This should be done four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used.
- Compression: Compress the injured area with elastic wraps, special boots, air casts and splints. This helps to reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Keep the injured elbow or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart. This is to help decrease swelling.
Your doctor may recommend other treatments to help your injury heal. These include:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) reduce swelling and pain.
- Immobilization: Immobilization involves reducing movement of the injured area to prevent further damage. It also reduces pain, swelling and muscle spasm. Slings may be prescribed to immobilize the arms and shoulders.
- Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to repair torn tendons and ligaments or to realign the broken bones.
- Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation involves exercises that help you get the injured area back to its normal condition. Exercises start with gentle range-of-motion exercises followed by stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Other therapies: The other common therapies that help in the healing of sports injuries include mild electrical currents (electrostimulation), cold packs or cryotherapy, heat packs or thermotherapy, high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound), massage and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.