The wrist is a wonderful tool and works with your hand, forearm and elbow. You can circle your wrist and it will move forewords and backwards and this movement is necessary in many racquet sports, especially the cocking of the wrist in badminton. It is therefore important to learn correct technique to avoid injury. In volleyball the wrist is involved in powerful movements, and in canoeing a repetitive action, also golf wrist injuries are common. It is no wonder that the wrist can be not only sprained or strained but develops wrist pain from other causes.
A wrist sprain is a torn or partially torn ligament and it is possible to sprain several ligaments at one time and a strain is a torn or partially torn tendon also of which one or more can be damaged. Overuse injury usually creeps up on you and is perhaps the ligament or tendon being over stretched. A wrist fracture can be easily overlooked because it may happen at the same time as sprain or strain. If healing is taking longer than normal then there is perhaps a ‘hidden’ fracture.
Common causes of wrist injuries
- The cause of a sprained wrist injury can be from landing on it, ‘wrenching’ it as in wrestling or from ‘miss-hitting’ a shot in a racquet sport like badminton.
- Overuse is also one of the main causes of wrist injury.
For sprains strains and fractures the wrist will usually swell and bruising may appear. The wrist will loose movement, strength and function but perhaps only in certain directions.
Healing and recovery
Apply ice immediately, crushed finely if possible to mold around the wrist and put a thin towel between the ice and skin to prevent ice burn. Keep applying ice every two to three hours for the first two days. This will help drain blood and oxygen from the injured area and help reduce the swelling. The wrist must be immobilized and supported with a wrist support. After two days continue to keep the wrist from activity but gentle wiggling of the fingers will help the circulation.
Rest may be necessary for up to two to three weeks and only when you can move your wrist without pain should you commence any exercises. During this time ice can be applied once or twice a day and if sitting it is helpful to keep the hand at shoulder height.
Even more importantly, as much as you love you sport, do not start playing to soon, for example if you have a tennis match coming up, playing a tennis match with a wrist injury is the worst thing you could do. After injury the wrist is at higher risk of further injury so make sure it is fully healed before you resume your sport.
- Spread your fingers apart and close them several times.
- Imitate a typing action and do this as fast as you can.
- Place your hand palm down on a table and lift each finger in turn.
- Squeeze a rubber ball, hold for a count of ten and release the grip.
Repeat these exercises regularly during the day as long as there is no pain or discomfort.
- Throw a ball against a wall and build up to throwing a ball with a partner gradually using more distance in between.
- Use a racquet, golf club or other equipment to practice strokes before returning to your sport.
Protection and prevention for the wrist
If your sport involves a racquet make sure the handle is of the correct size for your hand. Your fingers should not touch each other or reach your thumb. Equally important your fingers should not be spread apart by too wide a grip. Also be aware of faulty technique. Grip of any other equipment needs the same care. A wrist support can be worn but it is wise to ask your doctor first about this.