Wrist Injury : Tennis Injuries

The wrist is a mechanism connecting the forearm and hand allowing for rotative movement, and is comprised of three parts: the carpus/carpal bones forming the hand; the radiocarpal/wrist joint connecting the hand with the forearm; and carpal tunnel joining the wrist forearm to the centre of the hand palm. From the middle of the hand to the wrist and forearm, the muscle movements are called marginal (abduction) and flexion. These movements are also supported by ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels in the wrist region. When holding the racquet in tennis or swinging the racquet to hit the ball, the wrist can be injured in a number of ways: torn ligaments or ruptured tendons (wrist sprain, also tendonitis), fractured bone, and joint dislocation or irritation. Other injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury.

Symptoms of Wrist Injury

If you have sprained your wrist during a tennis match, you will feel sudden burning pain and restricted movement in the hand and forearm connected by the wrist joint as the joint swells and bruises. If a bone fracture occurs, you may notice the same but a raised part of the wrist surface where the fracture has occurred. If the wrist joint dislocates, you may notice a similar raised surface where the bone is dislocated. Movement of the hand is more severely limited with a fracture, break or dislocation. With carpal tunnel syndrome, there may be numbness in the hand with a weak feeling in the muscles of both the hand and forearm. In other forms of repetitive injury, the muscles may ache with dull pain or throb, and tingling or numbness may be felt in the wrist region. When tendon tissue swells in tendonitis, the wrist may feel painful and tight in movement.

Causes of Wrist Injury

Often when tennis players go to strike the tennis ball with their racquet and miss the ball, they yank the wrist with force that causes the torn ligament or ruptured tendon of wrist sprain. If a player falls and lands on the forearm, bones in the wrist can fracture or break. More commonly though, tennis players may experience the condition of carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by a compressed or damaged medial nerve in the wrist, or repetitive strain injury that is caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons during matches that also inflame the wrist tissue. Wrist tendonitis occurs when the tendon sheath swells and restricts movement.

Medical Treatment of Wrist Injury

To diagnose a wrist sprain, repetitive strain injury (or carpal tunnel), tendonitis, or a fracture to the wrist bones, a doctor needs to examine your wrist and discuss symptoms with you to understand how the injury occurred. By physically examining the wrist and hand, doctors can initially rule out certain injuries. When injury occurs to the wrist it is recommended to prevent movement by placing the wrist in a splint, to place ice on the inflamed site to reduce swelling, and to use anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone injection administered by your medical doctor to reduce pain. Only when the trauma to the wrist is severe, such as bone fractures, will a doctor suggest surgery.

Preventing Wrist Injury

Injury to the wrist can be prevented by consulting a sports consultant or medical professional about choosing the right tennis racquet for weight and size of handle to suit your grip and swing. If you are an avid or competitive tennis player, your doctor can provide you with a wrist support and may refer you to a specialist to learn wrist exercises and to teach you correct techniques for wrist movement. Taking care when running on court and swinging the racquet, and also wearing appropriate sports shoes, are important to prevent falls or repetitive strains that could result in wrist injuries.

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