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Hand injuries common among quarterbacks, athletes

CONTACT: Matthew Van Stone: 570-808-3248
August 27, 2012

DANVILLE, Pa. – Perhaps no player on a football team is more vital to its success than the quarterback. Given the field general’s primary function of throwing the ball to receivers, the team leader constantly has his hand exposed, putting the essential appendage at an elevated risk for serious injury.

“Oftentimes with quarterbacks and other athletes who throw repeatedly, we will see what is known as a repetitive motion injury, which makes up over 50% of all athletic-related injuries,” said Joel C. Klena, M.D., FAAOS, an orthopedic hand surgeon at Geisinger Medical Center, “Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on a joint, nerve or tendon, often by overdoing an activity or repeating the same activity.”

Overuse injuries of the hand include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and De Quervain’s disease. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on a nerve at the wrist. Tendinitis is a series of very small tears in the tissue in or around the tendon causing inflammation and pain.  De Quervain's disease, or tenosynovitis, can occur in the hand and wrist when tendons involved with thumb motion become inflamed.

Another type of injury that a quarterback may experience is ligament damage.  According to Dr. Klena, injuries to ligaments can occur at any level throughout the wrist and hand and if ligaments are damaged severely, a dislocation of the joint can occur.

A quarterback is also at risk for broken bones or fractures – commonly seen when the athlete’s hand comes in direct contact with another player's helmet. The injured part of the hand is immobilized in a splint to hold it in a particular position. The athlete may then be referred to a hand specialistand surgery may be performed for more complicated fractures. Surgery will set and stabilize a broken bone, and once the bone fragments are set, they are held together with pins, plates or screws.

“It is important that any type of hand injury is treated sooner rather than later in order to decrease further complications down the road such as arthritis,”

Dr. Klena explained. “Over time, if the initial injury is untreated and arthritis develops later in life, the bones that make up the joint can lose their normal shape. This causes more pain and further limits mobility.”

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