Sports Trauma – Upper Extremities

Bobby Chhabra pic
Bobby Chhabra

Dr. Bobby Chhabra, a fellowship-trained hand surgeon, serves the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Virginia in his capacities as chair and Lillian T. Pratt distinguished professor. In this role and as team doctor for UVA’s sports programs, Dr. Bobby Chhabra provides upper extremity care for patients who have experienced athletic injuries.

According to research, sport injuries to the upper extremities rank highly in frequency, second only to those of the knee. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that while knee trauma accounts for about 28 percent of sports injuries, upper extremity trauma is not far behind at 23 percent. In terms of specific body parts, injuries are most common to the shoulder but also often occur in the wrist or elbow.

In the case of the shoulder, athletes can harm themselves by way of repetitive, stressful motions that occur in such sports contexts as swimming, pitching a baseball, or lifting weights. As a result, athletes can incur injuries in two main shoulder-harm categories.

The first, called instability, occurs when the shoulder joint gets knocked out of position, sometimes giving rise to dislocation. The second, called impingement, happens when muscles scrape on the acromion, a portion of the shoulder blade.

Causes and Treatment of Skier’s Thumb

Skier's Thumb pic
Skier’s Thumb

Dr. Bobby Chhabra, chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Virginia, also leads as division head of the department’s hand and upper extremity surgery practice. Dr. Bobby Chhabra further applies his expertise as a hand surgery consultant for the University of Virginia’s Department of Athletics, having treated numerous sports-related injuries related to the upper extremities.

The term “skier’s thumb” refers to an injury of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the thumb. As its name indicates, it most commonly occurs as a result of a fall in downhill skiing, when the force of impact causes the ski pole to pull on and even tear the ligament. This level of force is unlikely to be present when a patient falls on an empty hand, though it is possible for any injury that cause a backward or sideways bend of the thumb to sufficiently stress the ligament.

If the ligament is only partially torn, the patient may be able to fully recover with immobilization of the thumb. If a full rupture is present, surgery is typically necessary. The surgeon will make a small cut in the thumb to expose the UCL, to which he or she will then apply sutures that re-attach ligament to bone.

Most patients recover full thumb strength following UCL surgery. In the occasional cases that end in chronic instability, a follow-up fusion procedure may be necessary to guard against the development of arthritis.

AAOS Releases 12th Version of Orthopaedic Knowledge Update

Orthopaedic Knowledge Update pic
Orthopaedic Knowledge Update

An MD graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Dr. Bobby Chhabra serves as a professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Virginia Health Systems. In addition to his current faculty appointment, Dr. Bobby Chhabra also maintains membership in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

For more than three decades, the Orthopaedic Knowledge Update (OKU), published by the AAOS), has served as the seminal resource for orthopaedic medicine and an invaluable tool for physicians studying for their certification exams. AAOS recently published the 12th edition of this volume, which, rather than serving as a minor update to the 11th, contains brand new information pertaining to cutting-edge clinical research and other useful information.

The new volume is available for purchase online at, or via telephone at (800) 626-6726. The book comes in print or eBook version, with packages that include both. Those interested can also purchase the complete 12-volume history of the OKU in digital format.

Syndactyly – Fingers That Fail to Separate in the Womb


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Dr. Bobby Chhabra is a longtime hand surgeon who holds responsibilities with the University of Virginia Health System as endowed chair of orthopedic surgery. Dr. Bobby Chhabra has a particular professional interest in congenital hand deformities, which present themselves in infants from birth and range from thumb duplication to syndactyly.

Also known as webbed fingers, syndactyly involves two or more fingers not separating while the baby is developing in the womb. Typically an issue of the ring and middle fingers, the condition is characterized as a complete syndactyly when the fingers are totally fused. In other cases, the fingers may be characterized as incomplete syndactyly, as they are only partially fused.

Another type of the condition known as complex syndactyly extends the digit fusion to more fingers. This relatively rare condition is most common in Caucasian children and is twice as prevalent in boys as girls. Webbed fingers may also be an attribute of symbrachydactyly, which involves hand underdevelopment and includes missing or small fingers.