Symmetry Blog

Acute Wrist, Finger and Hand Injuries in Sport

Symmetry Physio - Monday, June 19, 2017

A great article by our associates at Melbourne Hand Rehab.


Acute Wrist, Finger and Hand Injuries in Sport

Hand, finger and wrist injuries are at high frequency in sports, especially football and netball, accounting for approximately 25% of all injuries. Hand therapists are specialised physiotherapists and occupational therapists that specialise in these areas and can recommend the most appropriate way to treat your injury.

Commonly a person will injure their hand and just "shake it off" thinking that it is only a finger or thumb, just a small body part. This causes a delay in treatment which can affect a person dramatically in the long term resulting in the future need of surgery and/ or loss of motion, strength and function of the injured area. There are multiple injuries that hand therapists see in relation to sport. Some of the common injuries are wrist injuries finger dislocations, Mallet Finger and Jersey Finger.

Wrist injuries including, but certainly not limited to, scaphoid fractures, distal radial or ulnar fractures, and scapholunate ligament injuries are common in high impact sports such as football or rugby, but they can occur from any fall onto the outstretched hand. These injuries are very difficult to assess on the sporting sidelines. They require an x-ray and /or an MRI and hopefully can be treated conservatively with splinting and therapy by your hand therapist, although, in some cases, your hand therapist will determine through assessment if a referral to a specialist/surgeon if required.

Finger joint dislocation occurs frequently in sport and can be overlooked or disregarded, especially if reduced on the field or even in the ED. These traumas are painful, cause swelling and/or bruising. Commonly there are structures of the finger that have been damaged or torn, occasionally a small fracture to the bone as well.

A ball or high impact to the end of a finger can cause Mallet Finger. This is characterised by 'dropping' of the tip of the finger and the inability to straighten the tip of the finger and the inability to straighten the tip of the finger. Damage to the extensor tendon and/or a fracture of the distal bone of the finger has occurred. If not treated appropriately and assessed for other soft tissue damage (such as the lateral bands in the finger/swan neck deformity) the tip of the finger may never straighten. These injuries can be surprisingly painless in the beginning but may increase in pain with time.

A finger can get caught in a jersey or an article of clothing or can be forcefully hyperextended during sport. Commonly this is a disruption to the tendon that bends the tip of the finger. This conveniently called Jersey Finger. An athlete may not be able to recall the moment of injury of the finger. The finger usually looks swollen, it may not be significantly painful, and therefore can be mistaken for a fingertip sprain/ Jersey finger requires surgery immediately and weeks of hand therapy to follow. If treated inappropriately will lead to decreased grip strength, significant pain and lack of motion of the finger.

Your hand are required for almost every task of your activities throughout the day, work and play. Seeking recommendations from your physiotherapist or hand therapist will maximise your recovery and return to sport.

If you have concerns make an appointment at Melbourne Hand Therapy.

Stephanie Konstantinidis, Melbourne Hand Rehab.

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