When most of us think of a sports injury, we think of ACL tears or shoulder dislocations. The reality is that in many high contact sports such as football, lacrosse or hockey, injuries to the hand, wrist, and elbow are very common.
Hand surgery was the first subspecialty within orthopedics due to the unique anatomy and the fact that a hand not operating at 100 percent will have a large impact on your ability to play sports effectively or even perform daily activities. For this reason, it is important to consider a hand surgeon for sports injuries of the hand, wrist, and elbow. Hand surgeons frequently treat new injuries as well as chronic or slowly developing injuries. Some of the most common symptoms of a hand, wrist, or elbow injury that should be examined by a hand specialist include:
- Numbness, tingling, or a cold feeling
- Severe pain
- Abnormal motion of the hand/wrist/elbow
- Catching, locking, clicking, or motion that is not smooth
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 10minutes without stopping
For minor hand injuries, home treatment such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) may help to relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. An anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also help with swelling and pain.
When seeing a hand specialist, x-rays may be ordered to determine any bone damage that has occurred. If a soft tissue injury (ligament, tendon, or muscle) is suspected, an MRI may be recommended to help obtain more information about your potential diagnosis.
Once our hand specialist has properly diagnosed the condition that is causing your pain or dysfunction, a treatment plan will be determined. A treatment plan may be as simple as a period of immobilization in a brace/cast and an oral medication. Some injuries may require more extensive treatment such as a surgical procedure and subsequent therapy. Hand specialists have the experience to understand the short-term and long-term impacts of the treatment plan on the athlete’s ability to remain competitive in their sport.
OrthoNebraska’s team of hand surgeons all have experience treating athletes and can help you develop a plan for your hand injury. Call (402) 609-3000 for an appointment.