Athletes subject themselves to considerable disability. No matter the sport, the hand and upper extremity are among the most commonly injured sites. Frequently, the most debilitating complications of these conditions are the result of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Unfortunately, many patients with these delayed and misdiagnosis injuries need to be treated with surgical procedures. To compound the dilemma in treating hand and wrist injuries in this population, one needs to appreciate the athletic personality and the mentality that wishes to dismiss hand injuries as minor. It is essential to educate athletes by clearly communicating the risks and complications inherent to these injuries and the applicable therapy.
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the anatomy, mechanism of injury, diagnosis, and treatment of common athletic injuries as it relates to the fingers, wrist, and hand. Appreciation of the anatomy and mechanism of injury is extremely helpful in diagnosing the pathology. Early and accurate diagnosis minimizes the delayed problems of pain and dysfunction in hand injuries. As with any other sport injury the primary goal is to return the athlete to full participation as soon as possible without risking further injury or permanent disability. Common sense management of the injury is presented in regards to acute treatment, protective splinting and surgical intervention. Specific rehabilitation exercises are outlined at the end of the chapter to avoid repetition, since many of the same exercises are used in the various rehabilitation regimens described.
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