During the fall sporting season, doctors commonly see an increase in athletes obtaining sports-related injuries. Football and volleyball are two popular fall sports which commonly cause damage to the hands, fingers, and wrist area. In most sports, the hand is commonly in front of an athlete and incurs the most contact which causes hand injuries to happen.
Two types of sports injuries are acute traumatic injuries and chronic injuries. Acute traumatic injuries typically involve a single blow which may result in bruising, fracture, sprain, strain, laceration, or abrasion. Chronic injuries occur over time and may lead to tendonitis, stress fractures, or epiphysitis.
Many high school football players seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms every year for hand injuries that result in losing more than three weeks of sports participation. The most common injuries acquired playing football are finger fractures, wrist tendonitis, and wrist sprains.
Trauma to hands and fingers is also common in volleyball. Injury typically happens when athletes set, spike, and block the ball and occurs when the ball forcefully hits an athlete′s fingertips. Common injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, contusions, and dislocation of fingers/thumb. The thumb joint is the most often injured hand ligament – a thumb sprain.
Common hand injuries, symptoms, and treatment:
Wrist sprains are injuries to muscles or tendons which cause pain, swelling, tenderness, warmth, and redness. Treatment includes the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Finger fractures are commonly regarded as minor trauma. They can, however, become a problem if they are not given time to heal properly. Symptoms of a finger fracture include pain, swelling, tenderness, deformity, and the inability to move the finger completely. Treatment involves realigning the finger back into place and the use of a splint or cast. Swelling and irritation of tissue surrounding tendons of the thumb is called wrist tendonitis. Treatment typically includes anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Fortunately, most hand injuries are able to be treated effectively and athletes are usually able to resume physical activity shortly after recovery. Many of these injuries are preventable by wearing protective gear, regularly performing strengthening exercises, stretching, and learning proper techniques. Athletes should be instructed not to play through pain or injury as it may lead to further damage. It is important to abstain from physical activity until the athlete can consult a physician.