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Ask the Docs | Wrist Contusion

Ask the Docs
Posted December 5, 2006

  • AthletiCo Bulls' Injury Report

    Patient Question:
    While playing basketball this weekend I collided with another team member and injured my wrist on another player’s knee. My wrist is now swollen, black and blue, and tender to the touch. Could this be serious? Should I have X-rays?

    Dr. John Fernandez:
    The description of your injury sounds very much like a wrist contusion: a bruising of skin and underlying tissue of the wrist caused by a direct blow. Contusions cause bleeding from ruptured small capillaries that allow blood to infiltrate muscles, tendons or other soft tissue. Common symptoms of a wrist contusion also include pain and tenderness, discoloration under the skin leading to bruising, restricted motion of the wrist, swelling, and a feeling of firmness when pressure is placed onto the location of the injury.

    Wrist contusions are more common in contact sports such as football and rugby. However, they are not completely uncommon in a basketball setting because of physical contact under the boards and impact with the court as a result of a fall. In fact, I recently examined the Bulls’ Ben Wallace for a similar injury.

    Dr. Fernandez Dr. Fernandez
    Treatment Options:
    The good news is that a few simple steps can treat a wrist contusion. Begin with the R.I.C.E. treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Remember to rest from stressful activities that can reinjure your wrist and practice elevating your wrist above the heart throughout the day at work and home. Also, use a compression/elastic bandage that you can obtain from a local drugstore and wrap it around the wrist to keep pressure on the contusion. This will help to reduce swelling.

    If the pain and swelling do not quickly respond to initial treatment, be sure to see an orthopaedic sports medicine physician. Your physician will likely perform diagnostic testing to make sure that the wrist is not fractured. If these tests do not reveal a fracture, your doctor will likely prescribe a rehabilitation program to help you regain your mobility. The program may also involve massaging the contusion from the fingers towards your heart to reduce the chances of hardening and buildup caused by the contusion.

    For more information about Dr. Fernandez and the Sports Medicine physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, call 877.MD BONES or visit them online at www.rushortho.com.

    The information contained on this page is intended only for general public education, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct medical advice. This information should not replace necessary medical consultations with a qualified orthopaedic physician.



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