The wrists are complex joints that are made up of the two bones in the forearm, the ulna and the radius, and the eight carpal bones – the bones in the hand, which are then connected to the metacarpal or finger bones by nerves, small blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.
Every day, these small yet incredibly versatile joints undergo constant use, extreme pressure, and often trauma.
Injuries to the wrists, both acute and chronic, are common in a number of sports, found in people who engage in repetitive motions and activities at home and at while at work, occur frequently as a result of falls, or may be associated to complications from diseases like arthritis that result in swelling, pain, or stiffness.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Common traumatic and acute injuries to the wrist are ganglion cysts, stress fractures, broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, and inflammation or tears in the soft tissues.
These injuries require immediate medical intervention.
Chronic injuries to the nerves, tendons, and ligaments are often a result of long term exposure to stress, vibrational, repetitive, overuse, or continued motions that accumulate over an extended period of time and may go undiagnosed until they become painful such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Sports that may lead to wrist injury include all racquet sports, contact sports such as boxing, football, and wrestling, weight lifting, sports that require the wrists to hold weight including gymnastics and yoga, sports that require speed and agility, sports that involve throwing or catching a ball such as baseball or basketball, volleyball, diving, rowing, kayaking, skiing, ice and inline skating, skate boarding, and golf.
Other activities such as typing, sewing, gardening, carpentry, heavy or industrial equipment operators, and cashier work also cause wrist injuries.
Maintaining good form, technique, flexibility, and strength in the wrist joints is important for athletes and non-athletes to prevent acute injuries.
Depending on the sport, stretching the wrists, forearms, shoulders, and adding moderate weight lifting exercises improves articulation, circulation, may reduce the opportunity for injury, and could improve rehabilitation if an injury does occur.
Recently, the use of Kinesio taping has become popular.
In cases of arthritis, medical intervention, pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, or corticosteroids, may be required to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and reduce risk.
To help prevent chronic overuse injuries, consider implementing minor adjustments to posture, body mechanics, and the positioning of the hands and the arms, especially for people who sit at a desk and who use a computer for extended periods of time.
Adding stretches, as well as frequent shifts in position and breaks throughout the day helps reduce fatigue and prevent injury.
Individuals who are exposed to extensive vibrations from power tools or other industrial and heavy equipment benefit from protective gear such as gloves, wrist guards, and other support padding to help eliminate injuries.
Other protocols including massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy may not only help with prevention but also with symptoms and recovery.