“Gymnast’s Wrist (Radial Epiphyseal Injury)
Wrist pain is extremely common; it affects between 70 to 80% of gymnasts. These athletes spend significant amounts of time bearing weight on their upper extremities. Activities such as with tumbling, mounting, dismounting and swinging from bars. The repetitive forces on their wrists lead to stress or overuse injuries. What’s more, children are getting involved in gymnastics at very young age. In a growing child, the open growth plate in the wrist is very vulnerable to injury, and gymnasts can develop what we call “gymnast’s wrist,” or a stress fracture to the growth plate. If left untreated, overtime the continued stress can lead to early closure of the growth plate, while the other bone in the wrist continues to grow normally. The result is a condition called ‘positive ulnar variance’. This in turn predisposes the athlete to developing cartilage tears in the wrist and traumatic or stress injuries to the bones in the hand. The gymnast will describe pain in the wrist that is directly associated with activity.
Recovery can take several months and is activity dependent. Both athlete and family need to be aware of the long-term consequences of poor management. Treatment includes rest, adaptation of technique and forearm strengthening, particularly the flexor muscles.”