Common Hand and Wrist Injuries in Athletes

Bobby Chhabra pic
Bobby Chhabra
Image: med.virginia.edu

Bobby Chhabra, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon and the current chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery with the University of Virginia Health System. A faculty member and professor at the university since 2002, Dr. Bobby Chhabra has taught many courses during his tenure, including Basis of Athletic Training: “Hand and Wrist Injuries in Athletes.”

Athletes put a great deal of stress on their bodies. The chance of receiving a hand or wrist injury is high for athletes who use their hands specifically for their sport – such as baseball and tennis players – as well as those who participate in contact sports such as football. The following are examples of common sports injuries to the hand and wrist.

Wrist sprains. Excess strain on the wrist can result in a sprain, which occurs when a wrist ligament is stretched, or in some cases, torn. The sprain happens when the wrist is forced into a position that the body is not prepared to accommodate. Sprains are also common when players trip, and use their hands to break the fall.

Mallet finger (Baseball finger). Occurring due to damage of the finger’s exterior tendon, this injury is often caused by a high-speed basketball or hockey puck hitting the hand. The impact causes pain and inflammation, leaves the finger with a deformity, and sometimes damages the bone.

DeQuervain’s Syndrome. This condition develops when the thumb and wrist tendons become inflamed after use. Though the exact cause is unknown, DeQuervain’s seems to result from trauma, repeated grasping motions, or developing arthritis and is commonly seen in rowers and golfers.

Carpal bone fractures. Broken bones in the area of the wrist can occur when an athlete falls or is struck heavily by another player. When this impact is received by an outstretched arm, the entire force is placed on the wrist or carpal bones, causing fractures. A cast can give the bones time to heal, or surgery may be required.

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