Ask the Docs | Wrist Contusion
Posted December 5, 2006
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.
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
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.
Ask the Docs | More Patient Questions
While playing basketball last week I jammed my finger on the ball. My finger is still painful and swollen, but only at the fingertip. I also have trouble straightening the tip of my finger. Do you think anything is broken? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
When I raise my arms over my head for a rebound or reach to block a shot, I’m having pain in my shoulder. What could be causing this pain? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
I’m an active runner and have been experiencing pain in my shins. If I stop training, it goes away but comes back as soon as I resume my running activities. Am I suffering from shin splints? If so, what can I do to treat them other than rest? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
I’m a runner, and lately I’ve been experiencing pain radiating down the back of my leg. It hurts worse when I sit or climb stairs. What is causing this? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBS)
I’m a semi-active cyclist, more of a weekend warrior, really. I have been experiencing sharp burning pain on the outside of my left knee, and even occasionally in both knees. What is causing this pain? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Plantar Fascia: A Common Basketball Foot Injury
My heel bothers when I play basketball, and it really hurts when I wake up in the morning and stand up after rest. Is this some type of bruise, or is it a more serious injury? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Basketball Injuries in the Female Athlete:
I’ve heard that female basketball players are more frequently injured than their male counterparts. Is there any truth in that? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Aging and Basketball Injuries:
I’m a 40-something who still enjoys playing competitive basketball. In my advancing years, should I be worried about any increased health risks from playing this demanding sport? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Stretching Before Basketball:
I recently pulled my hamstring during a game even though I stretched thoroughly before playing. Some of my teammates rarely stretch and they don’t seem to get hurt. Does stretching really do any good? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
Torn or Damaged Cartilage:
After I play basketball, my left knee swells considerably. With ice and rest it mostly goes away, but the swelling comes right back when I play again. What causes this? Is there anything I can do about it? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
While playing basketball last week, I felt a “pop” in my knee when planting my foot. I now have a considerable swelling and the knee feels unstable. Do I have ligament damage? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.
When I take a jump shot, drive to the basket, or jump to grab a rebound, I often feel a sharp pain behind my kneecap. What causes this? How can it be treated? For a detailed answer and treatment options, click here now.