Boston Red Sox second basemen Dustin Pedroia suffered a sprained left wrist on May 29 when he collided with White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. It was an awkward play, one that caused Pedroia to land with his full body weight on his wrist. Pedroia managed to stay in the game for another inning before being pulled and later getting an MRI. Tests showed no fractures or torn ligaments. What could’ve been a serious injury only ended up costing Pedroia a short stint on the 10-day DL.
“Hand and wrist injuries are fairly common in sports,” says John-Paul Hezel, MD, a physiatrist in the Division of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “And they’re highly treatable as long as you’re patient with the healing process.”
Pedroia is a good example of that type of patience. He had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb after the 2013 season and surgery on a tendon in his left wrist in 2014. He came back from both injuries to continue competing at a high level, including winning multiple gold gloves. It just goes to show that hand and wrist injuries, although serious, can be overcome.
Hand and wrist injuries are normally the result of wear and tear, overuse or a sudden impact. Athletes who play contact sports can be at higher risk for these types of injuries and should take preventative steps, like proper stretching and wearing the right protective gear, to help reduce risk. “Strengthening and flexibility exercises help prevent future wrist sprains, while many athletes will wear protective ‘armor’ to limit direct trauma,” says Hezel.
Treatment for a hand or wrist injury depends on its severity but can range from rest and ice to corrective surgery and a cast. Wrist sprains — like Pedroia’s — are one of the more common injuries for athletes and weekend warriors. It just takes a momentary loss of balance for you to fall heavily onto an outstretched hand. The force of this can stretch the ligaments that connect your wrist and hand bones, and can result in swelling, bruising and persistent pain. “Initial treatment usually includes short-term immobilization to allow the swelling and pain to subside,” says Hezel. “Depending on your activity level and the severity of the injury, that immobilization can last a couple days to a couple weeks, though you should make sure to keep the joints from getting too stiff.”
Many hand and wrist injuries benefit from stretching and strengthening exercises. Hezel adds, “Rehabilitation with a formal exercise program under the guidance of a professional is important for recovery and for preventing re-injury.” Your physical therapist can help create a specific program that’s right for your condition.
With Pedroia’s return to the lineup, the Red Sox are finally getting their health back after a wave of early season injuries. Here’s hoping that good health off the field translates to good fortunes on the field. Go Sox.