Injuries to parts of the hand and arm, like the elbows, wrists and fingers, have multiple causes. Acute injury, overuse, bad technique or improper physical fitness before participating in certain activities are often to blame. Here are some of the most common injuries in the hand and arm, and what you can do to treat and prevent them.
Elbow injuries are often caused by overuse and repetitive motion, and they can develop in anyone who uses their arms repeatedly to complete certain motions—including non-athletes. A few common elbow injuries to be aware of include:
- • Tennis elbow: Also called lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is characterized by pain on the outside of the elbow due to inflamed tendons.
- • Golfer’s elbow: Known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow leads to painful, inflamed tendons on the inside of the elbow near the pinky side of the arm. This can be caused by bad technique when swinging a golf club.
- • Torn ulnar collateral ligament: This is common in baseball players, affecting the medial collateral ligament, which helps stabilize the elbow in throwing sports like baseball, football, javelin, racket sports and hockey.
Wrist and Forearm Injuries
Falls that lead to fractures of the arm can happen in any sport. Wrist fractures are more common in sports like skateboarding, skating, football and soccer. Wrist sprains can also occur when the wrist is bent backward, which tears the ligament connecting the bones in the wrist.
Hand and Finger Injuries
Common in rock climbing, football and baseball, hand and finger injuries can be caused by a variety of reasons. A thumb sprain occurs when the thumb is pushed backward with force, stretching or tearing its ligament. Thumb sprains are frequent in football, basketball and baseball, all of which involve catching a ball.
Tendon injuries are also possible in the hands if the tip of the finger is injured. If you find yourself unable to straighten or bend a finger, see your doctor immediately.
Treating Arm and Hand Injuries
Depending on the exact injury, treatment for maladies in the arm and hands may vary. Some treatments include:
- • Rest
- • Icing and elevation
- • Pain medication
- • Cortisone shots (for severe cases of tennis elbow)
- • Splinting or immobilizing the injured area
- • Wearing a cast for a fracture
- • Surgery: Particularly for tendon injuries, or to stabilize a fracture or treat a bone that healed incorrectly
There are a few steps you can take to prevent these kinds of injuries while exercising:
- • Limit overuse: In many physical activities, particularly sports, there’s a tendency for overuse injuries. Adults should know their limits and help protect children from overusing parts of their body as well. Overuse injuries in teens and children are skyrocketing as more kids play a sport year-round, and many kids play multiple sports. Make sure rest is part of their program and that their activities are varied. If they ever become hurt, make sure they know to stop right away.
- • Understand correct technique: Knowing the proper techniques for any sport or exercise you take part in is vital. Using the wrong movements or the wrong equipment can put you at higher risk for injury.
- • Condition: Being in shape for a sport or exercise is also very important. Muscles need to be strong and trained for the sport you’re taking part in, and all-around training is good to keep up endurance. Also, always be sure to warm up properly before beginning an activity.
Your doctor can offer additional recommendations on preventing and treating arm and hand injuries during sports or other activities.
Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages, and committed to provide thorough and timely health care for the entire family throughout all stages of life.
“Top Arm and Hand Injuries From Exercise.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/arm-hand-injuries#1
“Arm Injuries and Disorders.” MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/arminjuriesanddisorders.html