Oct 23, 2013

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Sports Related Wrist Injuries and Bracing

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Wrist injuries are common in sport related type activities.  If a wrist injury causes significant damage to any ligament surrounding the arm or hand, it can cause serious problems.  Going uncorrected, these damages can continue to cause problems later in the future.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, one in four of all fractures involve the hand or wrist, including all sports injuries.  The way in which the hand and wrist are used during sports related activities could affect the way they may become injured.  In basketball, netball, volleyball, and handball the moving ball is struck directly by the hand, which can therefore place considerable risk on the hand or wrist becoming injured.  In golf or tennis, the wrist movements needed to strike the ball in a continuous motion, can over time create issues through wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Falling on an outstretched hand is a major risk while playing sports – jumping, gymnastics, climbing, skating and skiing are several sports that pose this risk.  When practicing, or being taught a sport such as this, the athlete should be taught how to properly fall in the safest way, continuously rolling as they hit the ground.  In some sports, the hands and wrists provide the movement of the main catalyst or machine, such as rowing.  This repetitive motion can cause irritation to ligaments in the hand, wrist and forearm.

Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, aside from football.  Hand and wrist injuries occur often from falling on the hands, making contact with another player, and striking the ball with the hand.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine stated that the “right hand is the most injured hand in soccer, three times more often than the left.  Most of the injuries consist of fractures rather than joint or ligament injuries.  Fractures of the phalanges are the most common, with fractures of the metacarpals following after.  A significant number of soccer players sustain a fracture of the scaphoid, which tends to be more serious.  Ligamentous injurious may occur in the carpus, leading to carpal instability later.”

Golf

Wrist strains and injuries are common in those who play golf regularly and seasonally.  Overuse and a poor golf swing can often lead to unwanted injury.

Overuse can occur particularly with the “seasonal golfer”.  These golfers play during the warm months, taking a break during the colder months, and return to the course again when warmer months arrive.  Many golfers will spend their day at the driving range for the first time and hit many balls in one session, causing strain to the wrist, arms and hands.  Also playing several rounds of golf a week after taking the cold months off can result in wrist injury or strain.

A poor golf swing may be to blame for wrist injuries.  If a golfer is swinging his or her golf club poorly, it could lead to unwanted pain.  With time, if this issue is not addressed, the pain could escalate and result in chronic wrist pain.

Tennis

Injuries related to the wrist during tennis are, unfortunately, a very common issue.  The dominant hand more frequently can be associated with tendon, ligament, and bone and nerve injuries.  Tendon injuries are typically the most common with tennis.  Radial (thumb) or ulnar (pinkie) pain are the typical locations for pain.  It can be localized to one side of the wrist or palm, and can result in several different types of symptoms ranging from numbness, tingling and pain.  Overuse is typically the main reason for wrist injury in tennis players.

Skiing

The most common hand injury in skiing is a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of the metacarpophalangeal joint of the thumb, as reported by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  Due to incorrect handling of the ski stick, the thumb can be pulled sideways and tears the ligament off at its distal end where it is attached to the base of the proximal phalanx.  Sometimes this ligament remains intact but can be pulled off the bone, where it is supposed to remain attached.

Bowling

A report from the Mayo Clinic in 1972 reported 17 bowling patients with pain and numbness over the “ulnar digital nerve” of the thumb.  These individuals were advent bowlers and played at least five times a week.  It was originally thought that the location of the thumb in the bowling ball caused these symptoms, but other nerve damages led professionals to believe that constant wrist motions could have caused it during play.

Utilizing Wrist Braces for Sports Related Wrist Injuries

Wrist support braces can be extremely useful in treating and alleviating sports related injuries.  Common conditions that wrist braces can address include carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, fractures, sprained wrists and radius and ulna issues.  Wearing a wrist brace during play may aid in preventing any injuries associated with certain repetitive movements.  Made from absorbent material, the wrists allow the skin to breathe all the while protecting from injury.

 

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  • Diamond Grant

    I had a math teacher in high school who suffered a tennis related wrist injury. He shared that his doctor stated he had some tendon and ligament damage due to frequent, repetitive, and rigorous play. It impacted his ability to do anything and everything with that hand in a major way and he eventually was out for several weeks so he could undergo surgery and physical therapy. If I recall correctly, he did start using a brace afterwards and was very grateful for it. That definitely made me think that all individuals who consistently play a sport of that nature should take preventative measures so they won’t have to face such an outcome.

    • Stephanie Schneider

      Thanks for sharing the story of your teacher, Diamond. I think it is important for people to know the risk factors involved with the sports they are playing. I am not saying people shouldn’t play sports, but I agree with you. They should start taking preventative measures early to avoid wrist injury further down the line, especially if they are serious about their sport.

    • Michele

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Rebecca

    I have never been much of a sports player but in High School, I found my calling on the bowling team! Believe it or not, it is a very intense and competitive sport and I found myself at the bowling alley 5-6 days a week playing no less then four games each time I was there. The constant wrist action was really starting to pay a toll on my hand and wrist and I eventually had to wear a wrist brace every time I bowled. Thankfully that really helped and my game even improved!

    • Jerry

      I am glad you found something that worked for you! I wish I had worn a brace while I played tennis. I think it would have helped me out more in the long run. It’s funny that wearing a brace even improved your game! Was there a particular type of brace that was better for you or the sport you played?

    • Rebecca

      Honestly, I don;t know the name of the brace. It was actually one that I had gotten from the shop at the bowling alley I played at. It was very helpful though and I was able to bowl many games without experiencing fatigue and my game did improve as well!

    • Kellie

      When I played tennis, it seemed to bother my shoulder and elbow much more than my wrist. I used a brace on my elbow at that time but eventually had to quit playing. Now, I’m not sure even my wrists would cooperate! I wonder if a brace would make it any easier…and if my tennis game would improve?

    • jem1997

      I used to bowl quite a bit but eventually found that my hand and wrist became far too painful after about ten frames — one of the joys of advancing age! I am interested in the kind of splint you use that helped the pain. I would love to start taking part in this sport again!

    • Chell

      Glad you found something you enjoy! I am a terrible bowler. It’s fun, but I could never go competitive.

  • Jerry

    I used to play tennis, and I wish I knew the toll the sport would take on me at the time! I would have always worn a brace while playing. It is interesting how in certain sports the right equipment is required, like cups, pads, and mouthguards. I think a wrist brace should be something that is just as important to protect yourself.

    • Chell

      It’s funny how many people don’t think of braces as the right equipment. However, for many people they are absolutely essential!

  • Stephanie Schneider

    Thanks for providing a run-down of the different sports and injuries associated with them. I had no idea that one in all four fractures was a wrist fracture. In sports like tennis, volleyball, and bowling, I can see that it would be beneficial for athletes to wear a brace. What types of brace are best to wear during athletic activity?

    • NurseEJ

      When I worked in the Emergency Department, a wrist fracture was a very common occurrence. Typically, the break we saw most often was the Colles’ fracture which is a break in the wrist of the ulna (the bigger bone in your arm). Most often this fracture happens when a person falls — and catches himself with his hands! This can be a nasty break that requires casting — and a wrist splint after the cast is removed.

    • PB and Running Shoes

      The process after cast removal can be a long one. Just when you think your wrist is finally free, you find out you need another brace or splint in order to heal proper healing!

  • Rachel B

    Ugh! Some of those injuries described sound pretty brutal, especially the skiing one! Utilizing the wrist brace for recovery, but also as a preventative measure is sounding better to me already. Does the palo team have a sports brace? Or can the epallo brace be used for athletes too?

  • Chell

    Will Palo ever develop braces for other parts of the body? As someone who suffers from many knee injuries, I would not mind seeing a knee brace!

  • PB and Running Shoes

    It’s interesting that wrist injuries are so common in soccer. It’s not a sport that I would commonly associate wrist injuries with as much as a sport such as tennis!

  • Julia

    If I had known the toll that golfing would take on my body, I never would have joined my school golf team. I was a terrible golfer. I didn’t swing or hold my club properly. After two seasons of doing everything wrong, my wrists became very sore and I ended up needing a brace. Needless to say, I quit golfing. I’ve been doing much better since then and I definitely won’t go back. If you do everything properly you should be good but I was not very skilled at this sport.

  • Sarah Jo Coryell

    My big sport injury came from basketball. I was great at making shots but i never learned to fall the right way when I got run into. I always ended up catching my full weight on my hands so I really did some damage to my wrists when I was younger. Those sports injuries came back to haunt me as an adult and I have had some major CTS flare ups over the last few years.

  • Kevin C.

    I tried to get into golf but it just was not for me. A big part of that reason is that is bothered my wrists. I do not have bad carpal tunnel and usually only have a flare up now and then but every time i tried to get a good grip on the club and work on my swing, my wrists would be killing me by the end of the day. It wasn’t worth it for me so I gave it up.

    • Sarah Jo Coryell

      I amazed at how something that seems so simple- swing a stick and hit a ball- can have such a big impact on carpal tunnel symptoms! I know several people who love to golf and some of them have to wear wrist braes every time they play or they have trouble with CTS the next day. I guess every sport has its risks, it just amazes me that golf can impact carpal tunnel the way it does.

  • Patrick M.

    I am old school and remember the days where the bowling alley was the cool place to be! I also think that is where my wrist troubles began. Those heavy balls and all the strain on the fingers and wrists couldn’t have been good. I never had any carpal tunnel issues when I was younger during my bowling days but I am sure feeling it now!

  • Herb

    How do wrist braces, and the aPallo in particular, affect performance in these sports? I could see being able to bowl with my brace on, but I’m not so sure about how my golf swing would hold up. Tennis yes but raquetball no way! Does anyone have any experiences like these to share?