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Skating Wrist and Arm Injuries

Learn About Wrist Sprains and Arm Fractures in Roller Sports



Left hand and wrist x-ray.

Steve Dunwell / Getty Images

Inline skating and roller sports injuries are fairly common. And if you add speed to the equation, the chance of injury increases a lot. Whether there is fast skating involved or not, most hand and wrist injuries occurring in roller sports are caused by falls and collisions with barriers, skating structures and even other skaters. Many of these injuries are fractures or sprains to the wrists and arms.

These injuries are often the result when an athlete falls without appropriate protection, but a lot of roller sports related arm injuries can be prevented if skaters would just avoid using their arms to catch their falls. This is why it is so important to include learning the correct way to fall in basic skills and safety training. If you fall backwards with an outstretched arm you are eventually going to injure your wrists. This is one of the most seen injuries for skaters.

Wrist Sprains

If you are lucky, your wrist injury will be just a sprain - one of the most common causes of wrist pain in skaters and other athletes. A wrist sprain usually happens when a fall on an outstretched hand stretches or tears the wrist ligaments of the wrist. A sprained wrist will be sore to the touch, will have pain with motion, and there may also be some swelling or bruising in the affected area. X-rays can be done to rule out a fracture. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan is done to determine if there is any ligament injury. Treatment includes splinting, ice, and rest. The pain slowly goes away in a week or two.

Wrist and Arm Fractures

Anytime that you experience severe pain and swelling of the wrist or on an arm - or whenever there is noticeable bruising - see your primary care physician or sports medicine specialist to get an x-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture.

  • Breaks on radius and ulna bones of the forearm are often the most likely arm injury.
  • It is also possible to fracture the small bone in the wrist just behind your thumb. This hairline fracture injury is usually very difficult to see with an x-ray, so if nothing shows in your x-ray and there is still pain after two weeks, have your doctor x-ray the wrist again, because it may only show up on x-ray after healing has begun.
  • A navicular or scaphoid fracture must be properly diagnosed, because if left untreated it can lead to chronic pain and disability.
  • Colles fractures, sometimes called distal radius fractures, are the most common type of wrist fracture. The symptoms are very similar to those of a bad sprain, so x-rays are required to confirm the fracture. Treatment includes a splint or cast for several weeks followed by physical therapy. Surgery may be needed if bones do not repair properly.

Wrist fractures can be prevented by wearing wrist guards while performing any activities like inline skating or other roller sports where falling onto an outstretched hand is likely.

Other Sports Injuries

Skating injuries are always lurking on the horizon. Some may be overuse injuries and others may be acute or traumatic. Learn about the things you can do to prevent, identify or get professional treatment for some common inline skating injuries:

This document has been medically reviewed, and the information is medically accurate.

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