Common Wrist and Hand Injuries from Basketball
Wrist and hand injuries are some of the most common types of injuries in basketball. There’s no doubt that the wrists and the hands are necessary tools in the game of basketball, from dribbling to passing to catching to shooting. And without strong, healthy wrists and hands, you’re hard-pressed to shoot some hoops with any success. Thus, it’s important to learn about the different types of wrist and hand injuries and how to avoid them or recover from them. That way, you can keep yourself in shape, heal quickly and stay busy on the court.
A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are what connect bone to bone, and there are multiple different ligaments in the wrists. When a person sprains his or her wrist, he or she might injure just one of these ligaments or multiple ligaments.
The seriousness of a sprain can range from mild to severe. Mild sprains are caused by the stretching of the ligament, also known as a first degree sprain. A second degree sprain will include a partial tear of one or more of the ligaments in the wrist. In the worst case scenario, or a third degree sprain, one or more of the wrist ligaments will have torn completely. In these cases, the wrist may need surgery in order to heal completely and correctly.
Wrist sprains typically occur as a result of a fall onto outstretched hands, which can bend a wrist beyond its capacity. Most of the time, sprained wrists are mild injuries that require brief rest, icing and/or compression. However, basketball can sometimes lead to more severe wrist sprains. These might occur when a player falls forcefully to the ground after taking a shot.
If pain and swelling doesn’t go away within 24 hours, or if it’s accompanied by immobility or instability, you should see a medical professional. Their diagnosis is important to properly heal and to prevent further wrist and hand injuries.
Where a sprain is an injury to a ligament, a fracture is an injury to a bone. A fracture may be a complete break or a partial break of a bone in the wrist, also caused by a fall. The scaphoid bone is located beneath the thumb and above the forearm. It is one of the most commonly fractured wrist bones for athletes.
Injury to the scaphoid bone is sometimes hard to distinguish from a wrist sprain. Just like a second degree sprain, a person will experience some slight swelling and pain on the inner side of the wrist. Because of the similarities, it’s important to visit a doctor if you suspect injury so you can be properly diagnosed. Sometimes a wrist fracture is minor enough that it won’t need surgery, but it will need rest to heal. Treatment and recovery time will depend on the severity of the fracture.
Hand or Finger Fractures
Our hands and fingers are made up of lots of little bones arranged strategically for optimum function. In basketball and other sports, it’s possible for some of the tiniest bones to fracture. Despite their size, these small bones can cause big issues by throwing off the mechanics of the hand or wrist.
Fractures to the hands or fingers could occur as the result of a finger jam when a player goes to catch the ball. They could also occur if a player collides with another player. Symptoms of fractured fingers include swelling, pain and sometimes numbness. These fractures don’t always require surgery for healing. Sometimes the fingers can be realigned without it, using a splint. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, fractured fingers and hands can take between four to eight weeks to heal.
Mild Jammed Finger
Anyone who’s spent time on the court, whether in gym class or on an official team, has probably jammed his or her finger. This is one of the most common basketball injuries, and the least serious of wrist and hand injuries.
As mentioned above, a severe jammed finger might mean a fracture and could require surgery. However, lots of players every day experience a mild jammed finger. In these cases there might be a small amount of swelling, but the finger will still have its full range of motion. The finger may be sore for a few days, but can be treated with ice and a splint. However, a mild jammed finger does not require a player to take time off from the sport.
Preventing Wrist and Hand Injuries from Basketball
Obviously, it’s impossible to completely ensure your own immunity towards wrist and hand injuries from any given sport. No matter how careful you are and how much you work on your technique, there are too many unpredictable variables. It’s easy to jam your finger or collide with another player who’s not watching where he or she is going.
With that in mind, the most effective way to protect yourself from wrist and hand injuries is to prepare that area for the worst case scenario. Our muscles, ligaments and bones all work together to support and protect one another. Give your body the tools it needs to keep these elements strong and durable. For bones, this is largely nutritional. Make sure you’re feeding your body well so that your bones are healthy.
In order to protect your bones and your joints, you need strong muscles. Look into exercises that will work the muscles in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. You want to build strength and stability all the way from your shoulders to your fingertips. This will help protect your hands and wrists. You should also work on your range of motion buy using a resistance stretching program.
There’s no way to completely protect yourself from the inevitable fall from time to time. However, if you prepare yourself to handle it when the time comes, you can spend less time hurting and more time on the court.
The Rolflex PRO can be used on the wrists and hands and fingers as a self massage tool to relieve pain associated with the injuries listed above. Interested in learning about other basketball related injuries? Click this link to learn about Ankle Sprains from Basketball and how to prevent this injury from occurring.