Preventing and treating wrist injuries

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
August 13, 2008 3:52:16 PM PDT
Summertime is a heavy duty outdoors and sports time, and from over-doing can come injuries, especially to the wrist.And when you think about a wrist injury, you probably think about a fall. In fact, that is the most common way people injury their wrists, by putting their hands out to avoid falls. But there are other ways you might not even think of.

Bike riding is one of Vicky Lowry's passions. During the summer, she sometimes logs more than 150 miles per week.

She has never had a serious accident, just achy muscles now and then. What she never expected was that bike riding might cause her an injury to one of her wrists.

"My wrist started to hurt, and I kept doing all the things I did, cylcling and yoga, until it reached the point when I had to go to the doctor."

"Many times, we have to pay attention to the injuries because there are many ligaments and tendons that attach," orthopedist Dr. Kevin Plancher said. "And we have to take care of them."

Dr. Plancher specializes in sports injuries. He says an injured wrist can sometimes respond to icing and rest, but if there is no response, a doctor's care may be necessary.

"You can take care of them sometimes just by attending with an occupational hand therapist," he said. "Or you might need an injection."

In extreme cases, such as Vicky's, surgery was need to repair damage to a major ligament in the wrist - the triangular fibrocartilage complex, or TFCC for short. It's a common place for wrist injuries.

In biking, Dr. Plancher says proper fit is necessary, or injuries to the arm and hand can develop.

Even at the gym, wrists can be protected by stretching arm muscles before working out. And watch your form, he says. Good lessons or good training can go a long way toward preventing an injury.

"Be guided by the professionals that are at the gym more often than not, or your personal trainer," he said. "So that you do it right to avoid an injury to your wrist."

Vicky was able to have her surgery arthroscopically, which means through a tiny incision. She still has pain there after sports activities.

Also, the TFCC ligament can also suffer injury from using a power drill. Sometimes, the wrist moves when the drill should be moving.

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STORY BY: Dr. Jay Adlersberg

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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