If you’ve ever watched a gymnastic competition, you have no doubt been amazed at the twisting, turning, and tumbling exhibited by young athletes. And it probably will not come as a surprise to you that the number of injuries among gymnasts are higher than those of any other sport. Dr. Uzma Rehman, board-certified Macomb County hand surgeon, has seen gymnast’s wrists exposed to almost every conceivable type of stress, including repetitive motion, high impact loading, axial compression, torsional forces, and distraction in varying degrees of ulnar or radial deviation and hyperextension.
An Explanation of Gymnast Wrist
The term “gymnast wrist” relates to any of a collection of injuries that may arise from any type of stress or overuse that happen in adolescent gymnasts. The injury itself may be to either the wrist bone or ligaments, or to a combination of the two.
Gymnast wrist usually occurs because of the repetitive compressive force that a wrist is subjected to during weight bearing activities common in gymnastics.
Immature Bone Structure Contributes Gymnast Wrist Risk
While gymnast wrist can include stress fractures, a more typical scenario is irritation and inflammation of the growth plate (epiphysis), which is located at the end of the forearm bone (radius). This is at the point where the bone connects to the hand to form the wrist.
The growth plate is made up of cartilage, which is softer than mature bone. Because of this, the area located near the growth plate of the wrist is especially vulnerable to injury.
How Gymnast Wrist Injuries Occur
Gymnast wrist is extremely common. In fact, some hand and wrist doctors estimate that these types of injury occur in up to 40 percent of young gymnasts.
Virtually all gymnastic events place significant stress on the wrists. However, some of the most common routines that result in injury are floor routines, vaulting, balance beam, and pommel horse.
A good training program will include safeguards to prevent injuries. However, no matter how careful or well run the program, accidents happen. When a gymnast is injured, a quick and accurate diagnosis is vital to ensure an effective treatment and reduce the chance of a permanent disability.
Risk Factors Leading to Gymnast Wrist
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the level of risk for gymnast wrist. Of course, proper supervision and well maintained equipment are first and foremost in reducing the risk of injury. However, even under the best of circumstances, the chances of injury increase if some or all of the following factors are present: incorrect technique, previous injury, delayed skeletal maturity, growth spurts, recent increase in training intensity, large numbers of impact (tumbling and vaulting) repetitions.
Macomb Gymnast’s Wrist Injury Doctor
If you have a young gymnast in the family who is suffering an injury or pain in the wrist , or the fingers, elbow or arm, contact board certified wrist specialist Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most sports injuries in young adults, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to ensure there is no long term damage to the athlete.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your gymnast’s condition.