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Published on May 14, 2013

4 Common Wrist Injuries for Weekend Warriors

Spring is well under way, which means it’s time to dust off that old catcher’s mitt, hit the batting cages, and get ready to kick butt for your company’s softball team. But before you hop in the car and spend the day swinging at softballs, you might want to prepare yourself before re-acquainting your body with athletic activity. 

For weekend warriors, the return to the softball field can be trying. Aches and pains are expected for anyone who takes long breaks between workouts, but you escalate your risk of injury if you’ve been sitting on the couch all winter.

“Wrist injuries also occur when playing sports such as softball, skateboarding and more,” says Blane Sessions, M.D., hand surgeon for the Crozer-Keystone/Philadelphia Hand Center Partnership. If a sore wrist develops after Day 1 of your great comeback, you’ll benefit more from taking a necessary short-term break from the game instead of pushing through the pain. Otherwise, over-eager weekenders risk serious injuries that require even longer downtime.

Here are the most common wrist and hand injuries:

  1. Tendonitis: If you lift weights, or play sports like tennis or golf, the tendons in your wrists can become inflamed as a result of overuse or repetitive motion. You’ll know if the tendons in your wrist are taking a toll if you experience pain and minor swelling on the palm side of your wrist. Severe pain could also indicate a fracture in the bone, so it’s important to get it checked out by a doctor. However, you can take some simple steps to prevent tendonitis: squeeze a tennis ball for a few minutes every day to build up wrist strength and take a rest if you feel pain. 
  2. Carpal Tunnel: Another result of overuse, carpal tunnel occurs when your median nerve is compressed from swelling in your wrist. The result? “It may be numbness, tingling, weakness or a burning sensation in some of the fingers and areas of the hand,” Sessions says. Since the symptoms of carpal tunnel are most intense when you’re less active, you should wear a splint at night for a few weeks. 
  3. Sprain: “The ligaments of the wrist work to stabilize the position of the hand and allow for controlled movements that we use in everyday life,” Sessions maintains. When a sprain occurs, these ligaments become stretched beyond their normal limits, which often occurs when people fall, or play sports such as football, basketball and more. Since the symptoms of a sprained wrist resemble those of carpal tunnel syndrome, a doctor will need to order some tests of the area to identify what’s causing the pain.  
  4. Fracture: According to Sessions, this type of traumatic injury usually occurs from a single event, such as a fall. There are a multitude of small bones and joints in the hand and wrist, so there’s a lot that can be broken. “Fractures of the forearm are the most common wrist fractures for people of all ages. One out of six fractures seen in the emergency room are fractures of the wrist,” Sessions says. To help prevent fractures and even sprains, he recommends weekend warriors wear “wrist guard splints or protective tape to support the wrist and prevent it from bending in unnatural positions.”

And in the case of a sudden injury, such as a fall, it’s also important to learn how to do it the right way. Yes, there is a right way to fall—and it includes tucking your hands in toward your body and rolling, rather than spreading them out to break your fall when you hit the ground. Positioning yourself in this way will evenly spread the impact of the fall on your entire torso, and reduce the risk of serious injury.

Crozer-Keystone’s orthopedics and plastic surgery specialists work “hand in hand” with the experts at The Philadelphia Hand Center to bring you the kind of care that is second to none. All in a familiar and convenient setting that’s close to home. To learn more about our team of hand specialists as well as our comprehensive hand and wrist services, locations and more, call 1-855-CK-HAND (1-855-254-4263) or visit http://hand.crozerkeystone.org.

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