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But Doperak says that skateboarding, roller blading, football, and even soccer can put people at risk for wrist fractures. “I see quite a few in soccer, believe it or not. You shouldn’t be using your arm in soccer, but people trip and they fall down onto an outstretched arm.”

Sprains can also happen when the wrist is forced backward, tearing the ligament that connects the bones of the wrist.

Hand and finger injuries

Certain sports cause a lot of hand and finger injuries, Doperak says. “Rock climbing has a lot of finger injuries because people are grasping the rock. Football -- where guys are grabbing jerseys and using their hands to tackle -- we see quite a few finger injuries, as well.”

Finger fractures are a common problem, Doperak says. For example, people can break fingers by trying to catch a fast-flying baseball.

And that’s not the only problem attributed to balls. Thumb sprains happen when the thumb is pushed backward with force, causing the ligament to stretch or tear. Football, basketball, and baseball -- sports that involve catching a ball -- are more likely to sprain the thumb, according to Doperak. Symptoms include swelling and tenderness, pain when moving the thumb, and inability to hold things between the thumb and fingers.

The hands are also susceptible to tendon injuries, Doperak says. “People can get a mallet finger, which is a tear to a tendon in their finger that causes the end of the finger to fall forward toward the palm.” The damage to this tendon results in a finger or thumb that cannot be straightened. Typically the injury results from a force to the tip of the finger.

In fact, “If someone suspects that they have a tendon injury to their hand, that’s something that needs immediate attention,” she says. The main warning sign is an inability to straighten or bend a finger.

Treatment for arm and hand injuries

Treatment for elbow, wrist ,and finger injuries vary, depending on the problem. But common therapies include: resting, icing, and elevating the injured area; pain medication; cortisone shots in severe cases of tennis elbow; splinting or immobilizing the injured part; and wearing a cast to allow a fracture to heal.

Some injuries require surgery, Doperak says, especially a tendon injury. For example, fingers may need surgical repair of the tendons in order for the hand to function properly again. Patients may also need surgery to stabilize a fracture or to treat a bone that hasn’t healed right.

Bumps, Bruises, Sprains & More

No-nonsense tips on caring for bumps, bruises, sprains, and more.
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