Lifting Layla loved everything about working out and living a fit life. As a CrossFitter, she was always pushing herself to the limits, no matter what exercise she was completing. However, sometimes, even when you know your lifting limits, faulty equipment can lead to an injury. One day, when Lifting Layla was completing her final set of shoulder exercises, she lifted the barbell over her head, and the clamp that was holding the weights on the bar broke off. The weights quickly slid off the barbell, causing Lifting Layla to lose her balance, and her wrist to twist significantly. She instantly felt intense pain and swelling began to develop in her wrist.
Immediately following the injury, Lifting Layla stopped her workout and started icing her wrist. She also applied a temporary splint in order to keep her wrist immobile. As a weightlifter, it was not the first time she hurt her wrist. And normally, Lifting Layla would have given her wrist a rest for a few days, then immediately returned to her CrossFit exercise regimen. But, due to the intense pain of this wrist injury, she decided to visit the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas in order to truly know the severity of her injury.
“So, Layla, what happened with your wrist?” the doctor asked. “I was working out, and I had a pretty heavy set of weights on a barbell. When I was lifting the barbell over my head, the weights on one side completely slid off the bar, which made me twist my wrist. I immediately felt very intense pain in my wrist, and it started to swell. It’s actually still pretty swollen, and now I have some bruising,” Lifting Layla explained.
“Have you ever experienced a wrist injury before?” the doctor inquired. “Well, yeah. When I’m working out, sometimes I add too much weight, and I sprain my wrist. But normally, I ice and rest my wrist for a few days, and it feels normal. But this time, the pain was much more intense than with any previous injury I’ve experienced,” Lifting Layla said.
Given Lifting Layla’s medical history of prior sprained wrists, the doctor physically examined the wrist by moving and probing it, and he could see the pain she was experiencing with even the slightest movement. Then, the doctor explained that in order to rule out a fracture, Lifting Layla would have to get an x-ray. He further explained that x-rays can also help determine if a ligament injury has occurred by looking at how the bones of the wrist line up.
After reading the x-ray, the doctor explained to Lifting Layla that the bones in her wrist were not aligned correctly, which meant that she did tear a ligament in her wrist. “Luckily, since you came to see us quickly following the injury, we can perform a minimally invasive procedure called wrist arthroscopy to reconstruct the ligament. A wrist arthroscopy involves making tiny incisions in the wrist to place a tiny camera into the space between the wrist bones so we can see what’s going on and fix what’s wrong”. Since the wrist is made up of many bones and ligaments, it’s difficult to assess which exact ligament is torn. An arthroscopy gives the hand specialist the ability to see, access, and repair components of the wrist and allows the patient to recover faster as opposed to a traditional open surgery that is a much more painful and invasive procedure.
“Wow. I really don’t want to be away from CrossFit. How long will the procedure take? And how long before I’m able to workout again?” Lifting Layla expressed. The doctor explained that the procedure only takes about an hour to complete, and the recovery would include several weeks in a splint, followed by physical therapy to return strength and mobility to the wrist. While Lifting Layla didn’t want to be away from CrossFit, she did realize the procedure was necessary if she wanted to workout again.
Following the surgery, Layla wore a splint for 6 weeks, then she attended a few more weeks of physical therapy in order to regain the range of motion, strength, and function in her wrist. Now, Layla is back to out-lifting everyone at her CrossFit gym, but she’s more aware and examines every piece of equipment in order to avoid another wrist injury.
Do your daily activities put you in danger of experiencing an injury similar to Layla’s? Wrist injuries are common, but can cause significant damage if they’re not repaired. If you experience a wrist injury, it should be examined and treated by a hand specialist in order to prevent further damage to this complex structure. Make an appointment with one of our hand specialists today!