Common Hand Injuries In Athletes: Diagnosis And Treatment

Athletes risk a wide range of injuries by pushing their bodies to their limits in their quest for greatness. Athletes frequently experience injuries to the hands, even though most people focus on injuries to the lower body. Depending on the severity, these injuries can necessitate specialized diagnosis and treatment, ranging from mild sprains to more serious fractures. This piece will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for several common sports-related hand injuries.

Sprains And Strains

The most common injuries to the hand are sprains and strains. Sprains emerge when the ligaments that connect bones are stretched or torn. Strains affect muscles and tendons. Athletes can also suffer these injuries when engaging in high-impact sports like football, basketball, or gymnastics. The diagnosis is made by a physical exam, which may be followed by imaging tests such as MRI or X-rays. Rest, ice compression, and elevation (RICE) are usually used in conjunction with physical therapy.


Hand fractures can occur due to direct trauma, such as a fall or a collision, and are especially prevalent in contact sports like rugby or martial arts. These fractures can affect the fingers, metacarpal bones, or the wrist. Diagnosis involves X-rays, and treatment may include splinting, casting, or in some cases, surgical intervention by an orthopedics hand surgeon to realign and stabilize the bones.


Athletes who use their hands frequently, such as those who lift weights, play tennis, or golf, are at increased risk of developing tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons. Diagnosis includes a physical examination, and sometimes imaging studies like ultrasound or MRI. Treatment consists of rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy to strengthen the affected tendons.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

A disorder known as de Quervain’s tenosynovitis can impact the tendons situated on the thumb side of the wrist. Athletes who perform repetitive thumb movements, such as racquet sports players or gamers, are at risk. Diagnosis involves a physical examination, and treatment includes rest, splinting, and sometimes corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can develop in athletes who engage in activities that involve repetitive wrist movements, like cycling or weightlifting. It happens when there’s pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The diagnosis is based on the results of nerve conduction studies and a physical examination. Possible treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, wrist splints, and, in extreme circumstances, nerve-relieving surgery.

Gamekeeper’s Thumb

A gamekeeper’s thumb, also known as a skier’s thumb, is a sprain or tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb. Athletes who engage in activities such as skiing or basketball frequently experience this. Diagnosis involves a physical examination and imaging studies. Treatment options may include splinting, casting, or surgical repair for severe cases.

Mallet Finger

Mallet finger is a common injury among athletes, particularly in sports like baseball or basketball. It occurs when the tendon responsible for straightening the fingertip is damaged. Physical examination and X-rays help make a diagnosis, and splinting the injured finger for a few weeks helps the tendon heal.

Jersey Finger

The Jersey finger is the opposite of the mallet finger. It happens when an athlete forcefully grabs an opponent’s jersey or clothing, causing a rupture of the flexor tendon in the finger. Physical examination and imaging studies are the usual tools for making a diagnosis. It is common for tendon reattachment to the bone to require surgical repair.


Common hand injuries in athletes include sprains, strains, fractures, tendonitis, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Gamekeeper’s thumb, mallet finger, and jersey finger. Diagnosis often involves physical examination and imaging studies, while treatment options range from conservative measures like rest, splinting, and physical therapy to more invasive procedures like surgery or corticosteroid injections. By understanding these injuries and their treatment options, athletes can better protect their hands and continue to excel in their chosen sports.