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Hand and Arm Injuries in Athletes


WRITTEN BY: Sports Medicine
Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Upper extremity injuries are some of the most common injuries in athletes. They also can be easily dismissed or downplayed by the athlete when they want to get back to sport. Mark Baratz, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon who practices at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, weighs in on common hand and arm injuries.

Common Hand and Arm Injuries

Upper extremity injuries can include any injury to the hand, elbow, arm, and shoulder. There are two types of upper extremity injury:

  • Acute injuries, which are caused by a specific event or accident
  • Overuse injuries, which occur overtime from repetition

Much like older adults, athletes are prone to overuse injuries from the repetitive nature of their sports. For example, baseball pitchers are especially prone to overuse injuries, such as overhand throwing.

A few of the common upper extremity injuries in athletes include:

Seeking Treatment for Hand and Arm Injuries

After sustaining an injury, athletes should be removed from play and evaluated by an athletic trainer or another medical professional. After the initial evaluation, follow up with a primary care sports medicine physician or orthopaedic surgeon is recommended. These experts will obtain a careful history, conduct a full exam, and will likely recommend an x-ray or other advanced imaging in order to determine the diagnosis.

Once the injury is diagnosed your doctor will be able to recommend the best treatment options, which may include:

  • Reduced activity
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication or injections
  • Surgery

Hand and Arm Injury Prevention

While some of the acute injuries are a result of a specific incidence, there are also ways to help prevent overuse injuries.

One of the best ways to help prevent overuse injuries is by following any rest guidelines suggested for your sport or position (such as guidelines for pitchers).

In addition, strength and conditioning exercises both during the season and in the off-season are important aspects of any sport.

Before beginning any strength and conditioning program consult a doctor, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or sports performance coach to help identify the best plan for you and your sport.

For more information on upper extremity injuries, or to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine experts, please call 1-855-89-SPORT (77678).

Sports Medicine

UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced center dedicated to caring for athletes of all levels. For more than 25 years of world-class care, we’re proud to offer more services, have more physicians, and treat more student athletes than any other sports medicine provider in the region. Read More