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.
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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:
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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
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.
About Sports Medicine
Sports bring with them a potential for injury. And if you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. We serve athletes from a wide variety of sports across every demographic: young or old, male or female, pro or amateur. We partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and over 60 high school, college, and regional teams and events. We’re working to build better athletes. We use cutting-edge rehabilitation techniques to help you recover and provide education on how to prevent injuries.