How Doctors Treat Common Arm and Hand Diving Injury

In Michigan, the Great Lakes State, swimming and diving is a big part of many people’s lives during the hot summer months. Families, children, teens  and young adults are all heading to beaches and backyard pools to cool off for swimming and diving fun.

But, as with any athletic activity, diving can lead to sports injuries… one of the most common of which is injury of the arm and hand.

In this article, board certified Michigan arm and hand surgeon Doctor Uzma Rehman discusses how doctors treat common diving injuries of the arm and hand.

Wrist Diving Injury

When competitive divers attempt to achieve a “rip entry” his or her arms are extended forwards in line with the ears, the elbows are locked and the palms are facing down to strike the water with a flat surface.

Competitive divers hit the water at an average of 32 miles per hour coming off the tower – with some reaching an astonishing speed of 40 mph! As the diver “punches” a hole in the water, the wrist gets bent backward – with tremendous impact.

While the perfect rip entry gets the diver a high score – repetition of rip entry can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and inflammation of the wrist joint.

Sports injury doctors and coaches typically treated wrist inflammation with rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – as well as taping or bracing the wrist to prevent further injury.

In cases of severe impact of the diver’s outstretched hand with the water, or the pool or lake’s floor, wrist sprain or fracture is possible. In this situation immediate medical attention by a board certified hand doctor is essential – to ensure proper treatment and healing.

Wrist injuries left untreated can lead to lifelong stiffness, immobility, and pain in the wrist.

Thumb Diving Injury

When divers stretch toward the water and grasp their hands for entry, they also occasionally hyperextend the thumb. This can cause a sprain at the base of the thumb joint. Symptoms of a thumb sprain include pain, swelling, weakness and instability of the thumb.

Seeing a sports injury doctor for proper taping of the thumb while diving can treat the injury – as well prevent future injury to the thumb.

In more severe cases of diving thumb injury, the sports injury doctor may need to prescribe a custom thumb splint. And in the worst case of thumb sports injury, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the thumb.

Elbow Diving Injury

Hyperextension of the elbow can also occur upon entry into the water when diving. This results in the ulnar nerve (commonly called the “funny bone”) stretching too far. The result of this type of diving injury doctor is typically pain, numbness, or burning down the arm into the fingers.

Similarly, if the ligament of the elbow is stretched to far, it can cause pain, weakness, and instability of the elbow.

Divers experiencing pain on the outside of the elbow may also have a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. In this less common sports injury, the diver eventually suffers from an inability to straighten the elbow – or the elbow locks, catches, or swells. X-rays taken by a hand and arm doctor may are typically required to this confirm diagnosis.

Treatment of osteochondritis dissecans by a hand and arm doctor can restore the normal function of the elbow, relieve pain, and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Typically treatment involves physical therapy prescribed by the hand doctor. In cases where conservative treatments don’t help after four to six months, the hand and arm doctor might recommend surgery.

Sports & Diving Injury Hand Doctor – Macomb County

f you or a family member is suffering from any diving injury or pain in their fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Macomb County hand surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with every athletic injury, early detection, treatment, and a therapy and prevention plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of a diving injury.

Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition – so you or your child can continue to enjoy swimming and diving!

Macomb County Sports & Diving Injury Doctor: 248.335.2638