Basketball Hand Wrist & Elbow Injuries

basketball hand wrist & elbow injuries
basketball hand wrist & elbow injuries

As spring approaches, so does the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. March Madness is one of the biggest, and most exciting events in all of sports.

With so many elite athletes flying around, basketball hand, wrist & elbow injuries can be common. This is largely due to the intense repetition of passing, catching and shooting involved in the game of basketball.

NCAA March Madness

The hands, wrists, and elbows see a lot of action and take a beating. In today’s blog post we discuss some of the most common basketball hand, wrist, and elbow injuries that occur on the court.

1. Fractured Fingers/Hands

An impact to the hand is common in basketball when players collide, during a fall, or when catching the basketball.
At one point or another, every basketball player will experience a jammed finger - generally a simple sprain or injury to a ligament in the finger. However, a more serious impact may result in the fracture of the bones in the finger or even the hand. Although the bones in the fingers and hands are quite small, a fracture can throw the whole hand out of alignment, making even basic tasks difficult and painful.

Treatment: In the majority of cases, the bones can be realigned without surgery and placed in a splint or cast while the fracture heals. Splints or casts can be worn anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the severity of the break and how quickly it heals. In some cases, surgery might be needed to realign the bones appropriately and screws, pins, or wire may be needed to hold the bones in position.

2. Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis, also known as olecranon bursitis, refers to inflammation or irritation of the elbow bursa, which are slippery, thin sacs that cushion the soft tissues and bones. Elbow bursitis may be caused by infection, repetitive activity, or an injury to the elbow bursa. Bursitis causes the elbow to swell, and fluid collects in the bursa. Bending the elbow can become painful as the swelling increases.

Treatment: Most of the time, elbow bursitis is first treated with non-surgical options. Cortisone injections or anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to help with swelling and pain.

The fluid may be aspirated from the elbow with a needle. If the bursitis does not improve without surgery, the entire bursa may have to be surgically removed. The bursa will usually grow back after several months and function as it once did.

3. Elbow Tendonitis

Elbow tendonitis, also known as biceps tendinitis, is an injury from overuse that can occur in basketball players as the result of passing, shooting, and dribbling the ball. With elbow tendonitis, tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow become swollen and inflamed, causing elbow pain. Symptoms usually begin as minor pain that gradually gets more severe.

Treatment: Typically, elbow tendonitis can be successfully treated without surgical intervention. Surgery is only recommended if symptoms do not improve with nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment includes physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. Sometimes, a brace may be recommended, and cortisone injections may be given to relieve inflammation. If surgery is necessary, it can frequently be done arthroscopically, which allows for a faster recovery time than traditional open surgery.

4. Wrist Sprains

Wrist sprains happen when a ligament is torn or stretched, typically when the wrist is forcefully bent. A wrist ligament injury can happen if a player falls on the court while their hand is outstretched. A sprain may be minor, where the ligaments are simply stretched, or more intense, where the ligaments are torn – partially or completely.

Treatment: The majority of wrist sprains can be treated through non-surgical interventions, although surgery may be required if the ligament is completely torn. Nonsurgical options for a wrist sprain often include anti-inflammatory medications and immobilization with a splint. The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method is also frequently recommended for wrist sprains.

Basketball Hand Wrist & Elbow Injuries?

If a basketball hand, wrist, or elbow injury has you on the bench, contact Dr. Donnelly's office today to learn more about your treatment options.

This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.