RM Hospital for Children at P/SL
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Hand and Wrist Injuries

Hand and Wrist Injuries

What types of injuries occur?

Hand and wrist injuries are common in children and adolescents, particularly in children who are very active and in those who participate in organized sports. Athletes in sports involving repetitive arm activity such as gymnastics are exceptionally prone to hand and wrist injury.

Common Injuries Seen In Our Practice Include:

Acute Injury: Injuries that occur as a result of one particular traumatic episode are referred to as acute injuries. In skeletally immature children, acute injuries can occur at the area of growth in the bone, otherwise known as the growth plate. For example, growth plate fractures in the wrist can occur when a child or adolescent falls on the elbow or the outstretched hand. Wrist fractures commonly involve the the distal radius (lower end of the bone near the thumb). The growth plate is more commonly injured in children because the growing cartilage/bone often is the weakest structure compared to the surrounding shoulder ligaments. Most growth plate fractures heal without complications, but these injuries often require special attention to avoid future problems with growth. Other examples of acute injuries to the hand or wrist include hand fractures, finger fractures, tendon injuries and wrist sprains.

Overuse Injury: Injuries that occur over time because of repetitive activity are known as overuse injuries. For example, chronic wrist pain that occurs with high-impact activity in gymnastics may be related to overuse and inflammation around the growth plate (physis) in the wrist. This injury is referred to as gymnast’s wrist, or distal radius epiphysiolysis. Overuse injury can also occur in the soft-tissues of the hand/wrist (Tendons, ligaments, etc) instead of in the growth plate. Depending on the location and the symptoms, this injury may be referred to as tendonitis or tenosynovitis.

What symptoms do I look for?

Pain and swelling present after an acute trauma indicate a musculoskeletal injury. The pain may be generalized to the area or be specific to one particular location. Severe pain, numbness, tingling, and restriction of motion may indicate more serious injury. Chronic (or overuse) injury may present more gradually, with more vague complaints of pain that is made worse with arm activity. Overhead athletes may notice a decline in their performance due to the pain.

When should my child see a doctor?

Consulting an orthopedic specialist is warranted when pain, swelling, and trouble using the arm persist despite home treatment such as RICE. If your child is unable to return to activities or sports, or if he has joint swelling, locking or instability, seeking professional assistance is essential. Consulting a pediatric orthopedic professional is especially important if your injured child is still growing. Injuries that occur near the growth plate can be challenging to recognize and appropriate treatment is necessary to ensure adequate management and healing. Sports Medicine specialists are able to make specific recommendations about rehabilitating the injury and safely returning to activity and sports.

What should I expect at my appointment?

The Rocky Mountain Youth Sports Medicine Institute offers fellowship-trained physicians that specialize in the treatment of the wide range of injuries that affect school-aged athletes. Our dedicated team will develop a detailed treatment plan that includes a rehabilitation program focused on returning your child to play safely. When surgery is necessary, our fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeons will discuss specialized, age-appropriate and minimally invasive surgical options.

Services available at the Youth Sports Medicine Institute

  • Surgical and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries/sports injuries
  • Full-spectrum orthopedic care (complex fractures, ligament and cartilage trauma/injury, limb deformity, hand/upper extremity conditions, spine and hip disease/conditions)
  • State of the art x-ray (New technology with low-dose radiation and enhanced clinical imaging)
  • Physical therapy and sports performance facility
  • Comprehensive concussion management program
  • Sports Nutrition Consultation

Services available on the campus of the Centennial Medical Plaza

  • Outpatient Surgery tailored to the needs of young patients
  • MRI (New 3T technology to allow for shorter scan times and higher quality images)
  • Emergency Care 24/7

In addition, our Institute offers our patients full access to other specialists at RMHC.