This ‘Silly Injury’ can cripple you (Part One)

There are some injuries that are fairly routine in hockey – strained groin, strained hip flexor; even sports hernia is a pretty com

mon hockey injury.  When I hear about these, I have an idea of what the recovery will look like and 100% confidence that the player will get back.

There are other injuries that are a little more dicey and it will likely surprise you to know that one of the worst offenders is a wrist injury.

Have a look at this radiograph on the right.  See the part above the long bones (radius and ulna) and below the base of the fingers (the metacarpals) – see all those little bones that go together like a jig-saw puzzle?  THAT is your wrist.

Here’s the problem with the wrist…

What makes the wrist great, also makes it dicey when it gets injured.  All those little bones let us move it in almost limitless combinations of movement.  That is good, that is exactly what you need for stickhandling.

But…that mobility comes at a cost.  Those bones are strung together with little ligaments and the bones have a rather poor blood supply, so an injury to one of those little joints or ligaments can take a long, long time to heal.

Damage one of those tiny ligaments and one or more of the bones could become unstable and shifty and get pinched giving you pain and limiting your range of motion.  This instability can require surgery to correct – – the bad news is, that may lead to an instability somewhere else in the wrist over time, which could mean another surgery.

Fracture one of those bones with the poor blood supply and it may not heal – at all.  So now you have a chunk of necrotic bone in your wrist and more than likely an instability.  Again, surgery may be the last resort.

When they do surgery, it is usually to create a truss between one bone and another – a fusion.  Fusions create stability, but they take away mobility, which is not ideal for stick handling.

What makes it even worse…

Most of you don’t realize what your wrist actually is or how fragile it can be.  You think of your wrist as just the radius and ulna coming down to and attaching to the fingers.  You completely ignore the scaphoid, lunate, trapezoid, triquetrum, trapezium, hamate, pisiform and capitate (yes there are EIGHT of them).  These are know collectively as the ‘Carpal’ bones.

I had a client who hurt her ‘thumb’ by jamming it on a screen door awkwardly.  Luckily she is not a hockey player, but she is a very serious golfer, so she did what most people do when they injure this part of the body.

She waited a few weeks thinking it would get better.

It did not, so then she went to the doctor – she had damaged a wrist bone at the base of her thumb.

Okay, no biggie.  How long can it take a tiny little fracture to heal?

Still waiting and it has been about 3-months now.

What to do if you have injured your wrist…

You don’t have to run to the emergency room right away.  If you have simply sprained your wrist, it will start feeling better in a few days.  If there is excessive swelling, you cannot do routine tasks, like tie up your shoes or do up your belt, then you should get it looked at sooner than later.

Your family doctor will probably not understand the potential issues with a wrist fracture or strain (a strain is when ligaments are damaged; a sprain is when muscles are damaged) so he or she may order rest – which is not a bad idea as long as they are prepared to refer you on to a specialist when it does not feel better with rest.

As you know, I think a good sport physio is an awesome ally for any athlete as they have seen these injuries on a routine basis, so they have an idea of how serious it is and what to do or who to see next.

Okay, so there is the scary part of wrist injuries and for sure not all of them are this serious, but I want you to be aware.  I am going to come back tomorrow to show you what to do if you truly have just ‘strained’ your wrist.

See you then!


In-season hockey training