Wrist strains are a common injury for athletes that can become serious if it happens repetitively. The wrist is a joint made of about 15 bones. The structure of the wrist helps with movement. Most athletes use their wrist in their sport. There are very few sports that don’t require the direct use of the wrist, but every sport you play puts you at risk for wrist strain. Wrist strain is an injury not to the bones of the wrist but either the muscle or tendons. Repetitive wrist injuries lead to wrist damage that may only be treated by surgery.
The wrist has very small and fragile bones. All the bones are held together by tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Tendons connect the muscles to the bones. These little bones give your wrist the flexibility it needs to perform different functions. Gymnast uses their wrist to flip; basketball players use their wrist to dribble and shoot, and baseball players use their wrist to throw. Other sports like soccer and football do not necessarily use their wrist directly, but when you fall, the wrist is the first thing you use to break your fall. Overuse and falls are precursors for wrist strain.
We use our wrist in our daily activities. Cooking, cleaning, and driving. These activities do not typically cause wrist injuries. Most of us non-athletes get wrist injuries from falling. When we fall, we naturally put our wrist down to try to break our fall. A fall can damage the tendons and muscles in the wrist. The impact of the fall puts a lot of strain on the wrist and can cause a lot of pain. Most wrist strains result in tears in the muscle. Sudden force on the wrist causes strain as well. If you punch a wall or some type object that is not moving, a strain will normally result. When wrist strain happens repetitively, you not only cause pain but damage.
After so many injuries, the tendons do not heal properly. When the tendons start to degenerate, they do not heal at all. Symptoms of wrist strain include tenderness and swelling. You may not feel pain initially, but when you try to use your wrist, the pain occurs all of a sudden. When your wrist is hanging down, blood runs to the wrist and may also increase pain. When the tendons begin to degenerate, the pain you feel is constant and does not go away. You may rest it, and it feels better initially, but after a while, the pain returns. When rest and ice are no longer working, you may need to see a physician.
Most of the time, we can make a strain wrist diagnosis without the presence of a doctor. If we fall and subsequently feel pain, we probably strained our wrist. Discoloration and abnormal wrist shape may be a sign of a more serious problem. When a strained wrist is not healing well, you should see a doctor. The doctor will examine your range of motion as well as your pain level. An MRI or CT scan may be requested. Through the MRI and CT scan, a doctor can see the damage to the tendon. If you are experiencing tendon degeneration, it will also be revealed in the imaging scans. An X-ray is done if there is suspicion of broken bones. Treatment depends on the severity of the problem as well as the source of the problem.
For mild cases of wrist strain, treatment includes ice and rest. If you play sports that require the use of your wrist, you may have to sit out for a while. If the doctor does not think it is that bad, they may suggest you just wear a brace while playing. When you finish playing, you should keep the wrist elevated and go back to icing it. Medication is also good. Anti-inflammatory drugs decrease swelling and takes away the pain. If you have degeneration from repetitive wrist injuries, you may need therapy to strengthen the muscle in your wrist. Surgery is another option. Surgery may be needed to repair the tendon altogether. The most important thing is to prevent future damage. Most injuries cannot be foreseen, so it is hard to prevent wrist strain. Be careful when you are exercising and do your best to use proper techniques.
Repetitive wrist strain is hard to prevent. Injuries usually cause it, and most injuries are a result of a fall. Falling is difficult to prevent. For athletes, falling is just a part of the game. If you suffer from a wrist injury, do not ignore the symptoms. The worst thing you can do is ignore the signs and end up causing degeneration. Once degeneration occurs, recovery takes much longer. The wrist is important for everyday life. Do your best to prevent wrist injuries and try to rest the wrist if you feel any pain.
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