Sports Medicine
Wrist and Hand Injuries

Conditions Treated: Wrist and Hand

A fracture in a child can be very different from a fracture in the same location in an adult. If the fracture involves the ends of the bone, the growth plate may be involved.

Most often the fracture is treated with casting.

If you suspect your child has a fracture you should take them to the doctor for treatment. 

Gamekeeper’s Thumb and Skier’s Thumb are common names for an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb. The ulnar collateral ligament is a ligament on the inside of your thumb that helps with grip strength.

Injuries to this ligament occur when the thumb gets bent too far backward and the ligament is sprained or fractured. Many times this happens in “stick” sports like hockey and lacrosse.

Your child may have this injury if they have pain, swelling, and bruising at the base of their thumb, weak grip, catching or popping in their thumb, or if they cannot move their thumb. Ice and rest are a good first step in treating this injury.

If symptoms persist after a few days, or your child is unable to do everyday tasks like turning a doorknob or drinking from a cup, you should call the doctor. 

Growth plate injuries occur as a result of acute or repetitive stress to these plates often caused by a fall, twist, or direct blow. Injuries that may cause joint sprains in an adult typically cause growth plate injuries to your child.

Common symptoms of a growth plate injury include pain and discomfort at the end of a bone or near a joint, inability to move or put pressure on the affected area, and warmth and/or swelling near the joint.

If you suspect your child has a growth plate injury, you should see a doctor. 

Gymnast’s wrist (distal radial physeal stress syndrome) is a stress injury affecting the growth plate at the end of the radius (forearm) bone where it connects to the hand forming the wrist joint.

Call the doctor if your child is experiencing:

  • wrist pain while bearing weight continues despite several days of rest and basic treatment
  • pain with day-to-day tasks (i.e. turning a doorknob, lifting a box or bag, drinking from a cup)
  • severe wrist pain and/or swelling at the wrist joint
  • inability to put weight on the hand.

A sprain is when one or more ligaments in a joint become torn or stretched beyond its normal limits.

A strain, more commonly called a pulled muscle, is an injury to muscle fibers or tendon due to excessive force and stretching.

Sprains and strains may be caused from falls, direct forces or blows, improper warm-up leading to over stretching tissues, and inadequate rest between sport practices and competitions.

You should call the doctor for a sprain or strain if your child has severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint or move it, the injured area looks different compared to the uninjured side, or has numbness in any part of the injured area.

Learn more about ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries to the thumb. 

A tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. Inflammation or irritation of this thick band of tissue is called tendonitis.

Tendonitis is caused by overuse or improper use of the muscle and tendon. This occurs from doing the same activity repeatedly without enough rest time in between competition or training. Tendonitis can also be caused if an athlete repeatedly uses bad form in an activity.

Tendonitis is treated with rest from the activity that hurts. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can help alleviate pain and swelling while your child is resting. Formal physical therapy or home exercises may help correct improper form.

Call your child’s doctor if your child has increasing pain, swelling or redness that does not go away with rest.