Sports Injuries

Updated 04 July 2016

Hand and wrist injuries

There are numerous injuries that can be suffered by the hand and wrist. Fractures and dislocations of the fingers are particularly common.

The most obvious area where cricket injuries occur is at the striker’s end, where finger/hand injuries are caused by the tremendous impact of the ball. The hand consists of eight wrist bones, the palm with its five metacarpal bones, and the fingers.

Treatment of finger fractures differ. Such fractures are generally immediately treated by means of the "so called" buddy strapping  technique, by which the injured finger is attached to the adjacent finger, with some stability and support offered  by using an ice-cream stick or doctors tongue depressor before having an X-ray taken and splint made.  A hand specialist needs to be consulted as soon as possible. Any fracture takes six weeks to heal completely.

It is important that the finger is X-rayed to ensure that the fracture does not include a piece of displaced bone, or joint surfaces hampering  the appropriate healing of the bone.

Management includes providing support by splinting  the injured finger to the adjacent finger.

In a limited number of cases surgery may be required. Physiotherapy is important for pain management, oedema/swelling control, and to ensure that the finger and hand do not become stiff and weak during the period of healing. This can be a very frustrating injury, as it can keep a cricketer out of the game for a number of weeks.

The other common hand injuries are web space splitting (especially between thumb and index finger) when players dive in the field and their hands collide with the ground, or catch a ball awkwardly. This also sometimes includes a joint dislocation.

If only your web space is split, your GP would be up to the task, but with joint dislocations, with or without fractures, a hand specialist (NOT a general orthopaedic surgeon) is crucial. 

Split webbings have a high incident of reoccurrence, as the scar tissue that heals is very weak and vulnerable to the same impact forces, and special taping might be essential for a good few weeks after the injury. Sometimes specially designed gloves have to be made if it continues to re occur despite all efforts – these have to be cleared by cricket governing bodies, boards, and umpires for each match/season.

Content reviewed and enhanced by Dr Joe de Beer, a well-known orthopaedic specialist, and T-J Malherbe, a physiotherapist. Both are from Cape Town.


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Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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