Singaporeans are now more active than they’ve ever been.
While this is a good thing overall, it has led to an increase in sports-related injuries. Hand and wrist injuries, in particular, are incredibly commonplace. A study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine in 2020 suggests that these account for about 25% of all sports injuries. Even a mild injury to the hands or wrists can be distressing, as most people require the use of these in everyday life.
When unattended or not properly treated, these injuries can result in a seriously negative impact on one’s productivity and quality of life. Therefore, immediate intervention is critical when it comes to these kinds of injuries. Thus, understanding the signs of different common hand and wrist injuries can spell the difference between a few months of recuperation and a lifetime of pain.
Below, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of some of the most common wrist and hand injuries as well as the typical treatments. If you’re in Singapore, make sure to check this resource to find a hand doctor Singapore locals trust.
1.) Metacarpal/Phalangeal Fractures
Fractures in the hand and finger bones are exceedingly common in general terms, comprising about 1 in 10 of all fractures presented to hospital A&E departments. These can occur during sporting activities, particularly in contact sports, such as martial arts, where individuals use their hands. However, they are also commonplace in tennis, rugby, and other activities where there is an opportunity for sudden forces to impact the hands.
Common Symptoms: Pain, tenderness, visibly out-of-place or misshapen joint, numbness, bleeding, visible bones protruding out of the skin, limited movement of hands or fingers
Standard Treatment: Depends on the type and severity of the fracture. May require splinting or casting as well as surgery.
2.) Scaphoid (Wrist) Fracture
A wrist fracture is characterised by a break in one of the many bones in the wrist. Unlike finger injuries, these are not always obvious to untrained observers. These injuries are often caused by individuals trying to protect themselves with outstretched hands as they fall. In such events, their hands and wrist may hyperextend or impact a hard surface, such as concrete. In either case, the wrist bones may be fractured as a result.
Common Symptoms: Pain and swelling in the wrist area, from the forearm to the base of the thumb.
Standard Treatment: As with finger fractures, treatments depend on the type and severity of the fracture. Most scaphoid fractures require splinting and more serious cases may require surgery.
3.) Jammed Finger
This condition is caused by an impact at the end of a fingertip as it is fully extended. This commonly occurs in sports such as rugby, volleyball, and basketball, where a ball or other players have the opportunity to forcefully contact an extended fingertip.
Common Symptoms: Pain and swelling in the finger, especially at the joint. The affected finger may also hurt to bend.
Standard Treatment: Rest, icing affected finger, splints, or taping to the adjacent finger.
4.) PIP Joint Dislocation
The joint above the knuckle, the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint, is especially prone to injury, partly due to the leverage that could be exerted on the fingers during many activities. This makes the PIP joint particularly prone to dislocations.
Common Symptoms: Pain and swelling, visibly out-of-place joint, and difficulty bending the finger.
Standard Treatment: Resetting of the joint by a qualified orthopaedist. The affected finger may have to be buddy-taped or splinted.
5.) De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
This condition is a form of tendonitis and is usually caused by overusing the tendon that connects the forearm to the thumb. While activities such as golf and tennis can set off the condition, in recent years, it has gained the moniker “gamer’s thumb” due to its association with professional esports.
Common Symptoms: Swelling, pain, and tenderness at the wrist, around the base of the thumb area.
Standard Treatment: Rest, physical therapy, icing the affected area.
6.) Wrist Ligament Tear
Wrist ligaments and cartilage can experience tearing for a wide variety of reasons. Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) gradually pulling tendons and falls impacting outstretched arms are common reasons for these injuries. Workplace RSIs may also be compounded by injuries sustained during exercise or recreational activities.
Common Symptoms: Pain and swelling at the wrist. Increased pain when moving the wrist or when the wrist is in certain positions. Bruising and discolouration may be apparent in acute cases.
Standard Treatment: Immobilisation with a wrist brace from Gold Years. Surgery may be necessary for more severe cases.
7.) Skier’s Thumb
This occurs when a thumb is bent back forcefully enough to cause the ligament to tear. The injury is widespread among skiers but can happen in virtually any sport. Falling in such a way that the thumb is impacted is a common cause of this type of injury.
Common Symptoms: Difficulty grasping objects, pain and swelling at the base of the thumb.
Standard Treatment: Rest and splinting. However, severe cases may require surgery to reattach tendons.
Understanding common hand and wrist sports injuries can help you become more mindful about your form and limits when exercising or enjoying sports. Should you injure your hands or wrists, there are qualified orthopaedic hand doctors in Singapore who can help. If you see or feel the signs of a potential injury, please see a medical professional immediately.