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Top 5 Most Common Hand & Wrist Injuries in Soccer

A doctor wraps a person’s wrist in gauze to treat a wrist injury.

Did you know that soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world? It’s also one of the most active, so protecting yourself from wrist injuries is important if you want to stay in the game. Explore our guide to learn about the most common soccer injuries and how a sports medicine specialist can help you get back on the field sooner.

What Types of Hand and Wrist Injuries are Common in Soccer?

Soccer is a high-contact sport that requires a lot of stopping and changing direction, which, in turn, leads to many falls. As a result, wrist fractures are the most common injury we see in soccer. Still, there are other hand and finger injuries that can also occur. Below are the types of injuries we typically see and their symptoms:

Wrist Sprains
A wrist sprain happens when the ligaments connecting the bones and joints in the wrist are stretched or torn. In soccer, this is often the result of falling on an outstretched hand during a slip or fall.

Symptoms of a wrist sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, loss of motion, or weakness. A wrist doctor can provide a thorough examination to determine the extent of a wrist sprain that may include an x-ray, MRI, or arthroscopy.

Most often, simply resting and icing a sprained wrist will allow it to heal and get you back on the field. In more severe cases, you may require a cast or surgery to repair the ligaments.

Colles Fracture
A Colles fracture is what most people envision when they think of a broken wrist. This occurs when the radius bone in the wrist breaks. There are eight different types of Colles fractures, classified by the nature of the injury and whether the ulna (the bone parallel to the radius) is also affected. Again, these fractures often occur during falls.

Symptoms of a broken wrist include pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or deformity.

Most often, placing the arm in a cast will allow the bone to set. In some severe cases, a wrist doctor may suggest surgery.

Scaphoid Fracture
A scaphoid fracture occurs when the scaphoid, a small bone just below the thumb, breaks. This type of fracture can be non-displaced (the bone breaks but remains in alignment) or displaced (the bone shifts out of place).

Symptoms of a scaphoid fracture typically include pain and tenderness in the area just below the base of the thumb.

Depending on the severity of the injury, an orthopedic wrist doctor may suggest surgery.

TFCC Tears
Your triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) connects your hand and forearm bones to provide structure to your wrist. When any part of the complex's ligaments, tendons, or cartilage tears, it can cause pain and swelling, limited mobility, or loss of grip strength.

There are two types of TPCC tears, but Type 1 is what we mostly see when soccer players fall on an outstretched wrist.

Limiting activity and resting for a few weeks will often be enough to allow the wrist to heal. A wrist doctor may apply a cast as well. In more severe cases, a doctor may perform surgery to repair the damaged parts of the wrist.

Joint Dislocations
Dislocations in the wrist can go hand-in-hand with sprains or fractures. Anytime the ligaments are damaged, it can cause the carpal bones in your wrist to move out of place. These are also a result of falling on an outstretched hand.

Symptoms of a dislocated wrist include pain, swelling, bruising, and numbness. You’ll likely feel the most pain trying to move your wrist up and down or side to side.

Dislocations require a procedure called reduction, where a wrist doctor will move your carpal bones back into place. From there, the doctor will set the wrist in a cast, or in more severe cases, use a set of pins or screws to keep the wrist in place for the ligaments to heal.

Finger Injuries
These types of injuries are more common with goalies since they have to use their hands to block incoming shots. Soccer balls that can reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour! When the ball hits a goalie’s fingers at an odd angle, they can jam the finger inward or force it beyond its range of motion, resulting in an injury. In some cases, ligaments can stretch or tear.

Symptoms include pain, difficulty holding objects, or redness and swelling.

In most cases, rest, icing, and elevation are key to healing a finger injury. A doctor may also want to set the finger so it can heal. In some severe cases, the finger can dislocate. If this happens, do not pull on your finger to realign it. See a professional at once for treatment.

How to Avoid Hand and Wrist Injuries in Soccer

Now that you know the different types of hand and wrist injuries common in soccer, there are a few things you can do to avoid them:

  • Make sure to wear cleats during outdoor play. If you’re playing indoors, there are many indoor soccer shoes on the market with enough tread to keep you from slipping.
  • Choose a field that is well-maintained and level. Of course, playing on a field isn’t always an option. If you decide to play in a park or open lot, make sure it's clear of debris and as level as possible.
  • Make sure to warm up and stretch for 25-30 minutes before kickoff to increase your range of motion and ready yourself for a tough game ahead.
  • Get plenty of rest between games. There are two types of rest: active and passive. Active rest involves light jogging, stretching, and ball work in between games. Passive rest involves sleep, watching TV, or reading to rest the body.
  • If you’re a goalie, make sure to tape your hands and wrists to provide additional support. Also, wear proper goalie mitts to protect the hands and wrists from high impacts.

Are you experiencing symptoms of a hand or wrist injury? NY Orthopedics has multiple locations across New York and an office in New Jersey with top-level care to get you back on the field sooner. To learn more about injury prevention or make an appointment, contact us today!

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