The term “gymnast wrist” refers to a family of injuries that can arise from the stress or overuse that occurs to the wrist in young adult gymnasts. The injury may involve either the wrist bone, or the ligaments, or to a combination of the two.
Our Oakland County hand and wrist doctors report that gymnast wrist is typically the direct result of the repetitive compressive force that a teen’s wrist is subjected to during the weight bearing activities found in gymnastics. These activities include: repetitive motion, high impact loading, axial compression, torsional forces, and varying degrees of ulnar or radial deviation and hyperextension.
Gymnast Wrist Injury Risk Factors
Proper training, conditioning, warm-ups, and supervision – in addition to well maintained equipment are keys to reducing the risk of gymnast wrist injury.
And, the chances of gymnast wrist injury increases substantially if some or all of the following factors are present:
Delayed skeletal maturity
Recent increase in training intensity
Large numbers of impact (tumbling and vaulting) repetitions
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Gymnast Wrist
Someone suffering from gymnast wrist may notice swelling, reduced range of motion and wrist pain that occurs either during the exercise or shortly afterwards.
If a gymnast experiences these symptoms, a trip to a hand and wrist doctor is in order. Macomb County’s Dr. Rehman has just the expertise needed. She will make a physical examination and take X-rays to make a comprehensive diagnosis. If the gymnast’s symptoms occur in one wrist alone, a comparison X-ray of the non-injured wrist may be helpful. If the X-rays indicate irregular bone edges or a widening at the radial growth plate, gymnast wrist is the likely culprit.
How Gymnast Wrist Injury is Treated
The most important thing for gymnast wrist it to allow the wrist to rest long enough for the inflammation to recede. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications are frequently recommended. While every case is different, the normal amount of time for the wrist to return to normal can be as short as six weeks or as long as five months. It may be tempting to try to push through the pain, but that will only result in aggravating the injury.
Taking the time needed is extremely important. If gymnast wrist is not treated properly, a premature closure of the radial growth plate may occur, which can result in an uneven length between the radius and the ulna. If that happens, in addition to being painful, it could put an end to any participation in gymnastics whatsoever.
Returning to Gymnastics
If treated properly and completely, once the pain is gone and the gymnast has been cleared by his or her wrist doctor, impact activities may be resumed gradually and slowly. However, if pain returns, those activities should cease immediately and the child should again be seen by the hand and wrist physician for further evaluation.
Oakland County Gymnast’s Wrist Doctor
Dr. Uzma Rehman, board-certified hand surgeon, has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating gymnast wrist. Currently in practice at Macomb Hand Surgery, she and her team offer state of the art medical, surgical and rehabilitation techniques and have helped thousands of patients achieve excellent results. If you live in the Macomb or Oakland County, Michigan area and a gymnast in your family is experiencing wrist pain, contact Dr. Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your gymnast’s condition.