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Wrist Injuries and Gymnastics


Due to vast amounts of weight and pressure placed on a gymnast’s wrists, there is great potential for injury. Many gymnastics routines involve quick, jerking movements of the wrists and hands. Carrying the whole bodyweight on the wrist while it bends backward to support a handstand can end in fractures, dislocations and sprains, many of them with chronic long-term effects. While most gymnastics injuries are managed in much of the same way as any other sports injuries, two chronic injuries – the dorsal wrist impingement and the distal radial stress fracture – require special medical treatment.

Dorsal Wrist Impingement

The most common of gymnastics wrist injuries, dorsal wrist impingement occurs when the back of the radius strikes the wrist bones, as during the performance of walkovers or handsprings. This injury is the result of constant extension or stretching of the joint beyond its normal range of motion, also known as hyperextension. Force placed on the joint or bone, or axial loading, can also cause this condition. The injury is aggravated whenever the body’s full weight is placed on the wrist while doing handstands on the vault or balance beam. The posterior wrist pain and tenderness that accompany the injury usually subsides only after a gymnastics routine has been completed.

Treatment

To treat dorsal wrist impingement, a gymnast must totally refrain from performing any activities that involve hyperextension and axial loading. Wearing a splint or a dorsal-wrist block support, applying ice packs to the afflicted area and taking anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen) go a long way in reducing pain and swelling. It is important to completely rest the injured joint before starting rehabilitative stretching and strengthening. After an assessment of fitness, the athlete can then return to sports-related activities. If the pain remains despite rest and rehabilitation exercises, administering cortisone injections may help. Barring that, surgical procedures may be undertaken to correct the impairment.

Distal Radial Stress Fracture

Floor exercises and vaulting see the most incidences of distal radial stress fractures. In a double backward somersault, for instance, the impact of force upon the wrist can cause hairline fractures in the radius, a bone located on the thumb side of the forearm. Progressive pain and tenderness signal the manifestation of this injury, particularly during the course of actual practice or competition.

An X-ray can determine the existence of these fractures and subsequent examinations by an orthopaedic specialist will determine the extent of the injury in order to effect treatment. During axial loading and dorsification, or bending of the wrist, micro-trauma may likely occur. This bears heavily upon the growth plates and may have an adverse effect on length development. There are cases following this injury where the radius and the ulna attain different lengths. It is therefore crucial to seek medical evaluation at the first signs of pain before the injury becomes even more serious and results to a lengthier recuperation period.

Treatment

The type of treatment administered will depend on the extent of the fracture. Rest plays a great factor in treatment, and if necessary, so is wearing a brace, splint or cast to immobilize the injured joint. As soon as the joint can be moved extensively without any sign of pain or discomfort, the gymnast may resume regular sports activities.

Constant monitoring should be made after full recuperation from injury. If symptoms of pain, tenderness or inflammation reoccur, this is a signal for repeat medical evaluation and treatment. Leaving a repeat or reoccurring injury untreated may eventually result in invasive surgery.

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Vulkan Neoprene Wrist Support

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This is ideal for gymnasts and footballers. It is a high quality neoprene wrist support that covers the palm of the hand. It also provides excellent compression, support and warmth. Ideal for the swollen, painful wrist that may persist after a broken wrist has healed.

How does it work?

The Vulkan Neoprene range features premium quality neoprene. This offers the best possible combination of support, compression, heat retention and comfort. Vulkan Neoprene has a unique spiral lining which is critical in removing excess sweat which avoids skin problems and is more comfortable to wear.

By retaining heat there is an increase in the elasticity of the soft tissues. This is helpful for the treatment and prevention of wrist injuries. By increasing local blood flow, healing and recovery times can be reduced following a wrist injury. The Vulkan Long Wrist Support applies uniform compression from the palm to the mid forearm, making it ideal for the swollen, painful wrist.

When to use it

The Vulkan Neoprene Wrist Support is ideal for people who have suffered a wrist injury, such as a wrist sprain, where a uniform compression support can help to relieve wrist swelling.

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