Treating Wrist Injuries in Professional Athletes

A hand and wrist surgeon may face a particular challenge when it comes to effectively treating professional athletes. Besides the unusual level of strain these athletes put on their bodies when compared to the average person, there’s an added level of pressure to deliver lasting results: an entire professional career could depend on it, not to mention the rest of their team.

Real Life Wrist Examples

The complex nature of wrist injuries was recently driven home when Mark Teixeira, star first baseman for the New York Yankees, suffered a wrist injury that took him out of the game in early March of 2013. Initially, the injury was suspected to be a simple strain, but further examination revealed a partially torn tendon sheath.

The nature of Teixeira’s injury led to mixed opinions about whether or not he would need surgery. Surgery would definitely end up keeping him out the entire 2013 season. However, since his tendon was still stable, it was decided that physical rehab would be the best course of treatment unless his situation changed.

Teixeira wore compression wraps on both wrists for several weeks, and plans to cut down his future workload to give his injured wrist a breather. In the meantime, he was able to participate in limited spring training exercises with his teammates, and should be able to play again before much longer.

Teixeira was luckier than some other big names suffering hand and wrist injures on the baseball diamond. Alex Rodriguez, star third baseman for the Yankees, was hit by a pitch that fractured his left hand, taking him out of play for about 8 weeks. His temporary replacement, Eric Chavez, had himself suffered a career-changing hand injury. Curtis Granderson, also from the New York Yankees, fractured his arm as the result of a hard pitch and missed a chunk of the season as well.

Back in the Game

Casual sports enthusiasts may have an improved chance of treatment and recovery compared to their professional counterparts, since the level of performance and pressure to heal quickly are lower. However, thorough healing is an essential part of any hand and wrist injury, especially if returning to the world of sports. Although the early reports of Teixeira’s wrist injury predicted a worst-case scenario, in the end he was able to return to his team without needing hand surgery.

Current reports indicate that Teixeira is using his wrists without pain, but the acid test of surviving the rest of the season is still ahead of him. For many professionals, a rapid recovery simply isn’t possible, and the resultant injuries and surgeries may even end a career.

For example, multiple injuries, including a broken wrist, were a major contributing factor to prematurely ending Ken Griffey Jr.’s baseball career. After missing several games and struggling to regain his former performance, Griffey eventually retired from the game entirely. Many other promising professional athletes saw their careers cut short before making a real mark on their sport, or settled for lackluster records when injuries limited their former playing capabilities.

Getting injured athletes back in the game requires a unique combination of accurate assessment and effective treatment that still delivers enough freedom of movement to allow high levels of performance. With the right hand and wrist surgeon, prompt treatment should help get you back in the game.

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