Hand and wrist injuries are on the rise and seeing a Hand Therapist for specialised hand physiotherapy in Coffs Harbour could be beneficial not just to playing sport, but for your dexterity long term.
Due to the pandemic and people wanting to get outdoors during lockdowns, bike sales have gone through the roof, and so have fall injuries off them!
In Brisbane alone, a million more people have been using bikeways since lockdown began.
Bike sales around Australia and overseas have certainly soared!
Along with more people cycling, there’s also been a spike in hand and wrist related injuries in many sports, including sailing, motorbiking and mountain bike riding.
Hand Therapy Awareness week is 1-7 June and is an annual event designed to raise awareness to the profile of Hand Therapy, and just how important and prevalent it is in our community.
It often gets overlooked compared to other therapies but when you think of how much you rely on your hands over the day, hand physio is essential.
While sports injuries can’t always be prevented, there are precautions that you can take to help lower the chance of an injury occurring.
What are the most common sports-related hand and wrist injuries?
Common injuries from sport generally fall into two types of injuries; either acute injuries or chronic injuries.
Acute injuries – These are also called traumatic injuries and have an increased rate for people who play sports with high speed and contact with other players.
Sports such as football, basketball, netball, cycling, skiing and snowboarding are more traumatic injury sports that can lead to common injuries such as:
- Ligament Tears
- Muscle Strains
- Joint Dislocations
- Tendon Inflammation
Chronic Injuries – These are stress-induced injuries that occur from overuse or previous reoccurring injuries.
These tend to happen more in sports when the same muscles have repetitive motion and overuse. The sports where this happens tend to be tennis, gym, cricket, golf and cycling.
These sports tend to incur injuries such as:
- Tendon Tears
- Tendon Inflammation
- Tendon Dislocation
- Nerve Injuries
Chronic injuries are less likely to receive treatment as they often result in less pain, but can result in long-term disability if left untreated.
It’s important to seek early assessment by a Hand Therapist even for minor injuries, as delay can cause a protracted recovery, or can gradually worsen over time and impact an athlete’s performance. Stress fractures are common for this.
Which sports cause more hand-related injuries?
Within any sport there is a chance of injury, even when you play sports that don’t require using your hands, such as soccer.
In contact sports, there is a chance you can fall, collide and land on your wrists or hands.
When you play sports with overuse of the same muscles, such as gripping in golf, tennis, or gym workouts, there is a high chance of chronic injuries. All sports come with a risk of injury.
What are the treatment options available for hand and wrist injuries?
Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the injury and location of the injury. Some common treatments are:
Muscle sprains or strains
Sometimes an acute injury, othertimes due to poor biomechanics. These may initially be treated with rest and compression, but need an expert assessment to clear an underlying imbalance in power or mobility
These need early assessment, as severe tears may need surgery, others can be treated by custom made splinting to protect the tear whilst it heals. If an xray is required, we can order this and discuss appropriate follow-up with you.
Finger dislocation is common, and often people ‘pop it back in’ pump their finger and say ‘it’s alright.’ In mild cases, you may be able to ice, splint and get away with it. However often there may be a fracture associated, a rupture of the volar plate leading to chronic instability, or 2-3 weeks after the injury the finger starts to bend in due to scar tissue, and becomes quite difficult to straighten . For minimum recovery time and maximum outcomes, best to come in and get checked out early!
Hand Therapy will address this through bracing, taping or splinting as required to support/unload the tendon. For long term control, any muscle imbalances need addressing with targeted exercises, and of course correction of any poor postural faults and ergonomic supports.
These can commonly be cured with rest and sometimes bracing, but an x-ray is often recommended to rule out a break.
What’s the best preventative measures?
It’s not always possible to prevent an injury, but some techniques can include:
- Maintaining good posture
- Wearing the correct sport equipment
- Giving the body a chance to rest
- Practising proper techniques
- Working with an athletic trainer
If you’ve suffered an injury during sport, it’s essential to seek early treatment.
Seeing a qualified, experienced Hand Therapist for hand therapy can minimise your recovery time and complications, and maximise your outcomes. You will receive informed advice on which exercises are relevant and appropriate for each level of your graduated return to sport, along with prevention strategies to avoid further injuries.
Accredited Hand Therapists as per the AHTA and Credentialed Hand Therapists [USA] have demonstrated the required educational and experience to provide:
- Accurate assessments, immediate and effective care to reduce treatment time
- A continuum of care eliminating the need for multiple medical providers
- Faster recovery results by minimising complications
- Functional outcomes ensuring a faster return to work and a productive lifestyle
- The most comprehensive care for their patients