Gymnastics is a great sport that will improve your child’s physical development especially in the areas of strength, flexibility, and agility. Unfortunately, the sport can also challenge and stress your child’s body. Most gymnasts are required to put a lot of weight on their wrist joints, which means there is great potential for injury. If you have a child gymnast, you should watch out for a hand injury called the gymnast wrist.
Also called a distal radial epiphysitis, the gymnast wrist is a type of chronic pain that occurs on the growth plate connected at the radius bone near the wrist. Because the growth plate is softer, it is more susceptible to injury than mature bone. The injury usually appears whenever a young gymnast goes through an increased intensity of gymnastic activities, such as when he or she progresses through a higher level of competition.
The most common symptom of a gymnast wrist is pain, usually located on the thumb side. Mild swelling and decreased range of motion can also be felt. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment for a gymnast wrist begins with rest from doing high-impact activities. Ice and anti-inflammatory medicine will then be prescribed by your San Diego orthopedic doctor. If the pain does not subside, corticosteroid injections can also be done. Surgical alternatives will be looked into if these do not correct the wrist impairment.
Once the inflammation has subsided and your young athlete has been cleared by your doctor, he or she can resume activities slowly and gradually to maintain mobility and upper extremity strength. A wrist brace may be worn to reduce the stress on the hand during tumbling and vaulting motions. Incorporating exercises that strengthen the upper body will also help.