The Five Most Common Upper Limb Injuries

To perform in a specific sport, to give in long hours of doing the same repetitive work, one needs perseverance. It is indeed a skill, and not an easy one to excel at. It takes several unforgiving attempts to pull off that winning shot.

Prior to which lies a journey in which the athlete has to overreach their body’s ability to repair and super compensate. Overreaching is good and although it is required to achieve better results, it has to be periodized under the guidance of an expert. In this process of super compensation and overreaching, the athlete may face a number of issues like pain, swelling, tenderness, inflammation.


There are two types of injuries:

  •         Chronic injury (also called overuse injury) – caused by repetitive motions with one’s hands and wrists.
  •         Acute injury (also called sudden onset injury) – mostly occurs due to falling or a sudden impact on an outstretched hand.

Although injuries are generally sport and case specific, here are the most common upper limb injuries you should be aware of and mindfully work around:

  1. Fractures – Damage to any of the bones of the upper limbs can disturb the entire kinetic chain, disrupt functionality, and limit range of motion. Although fractures are usually acute, they take a long time to heal, depending on the extent of the injury and how well you follow your active rest and nutrition. Long before the fracture is solid enough to handle the stresses of normal activity, pain usually stops.During your recovery you will likely lose muscle strength in the affected area. Specific exercises that help you restore normal muscle strength and range of motion should be incorporated as active rest.
  2. Shoulder dislocations – The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint of the body due to which we are able to do so many movements very swiftly, but this comes at a cost of being easiest to dislocate. These dislocations are sometimes partial and sometimes complete. 
  3. Rotator cuff injuries – These are common among sports players who perform throwing movements such as tennis and volleyball. Athletes playing sports, such as swimming, pitchers, tennis, which require extending the arm overhead repetitively, commonly develop rotator cuff tendonitis.  
  4. Medial and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow) – Both syndromes are generally caused by overuse and overload. This is why tennis players are required to use both hands when attempting backhand. Wrong techniques in weight lifting also cause similar conditions.
  5. Carpal tunnel syndrome – This is by far the most common wrist injury. The anatomy of the wrist, health problems such as inflammation, swelling, repetitive hand motions, wrong form and techniques of exercises are common contributors.

How to deal with Injuries

Injuries almost always hinder sportspersons and fitness enthusiasts alike from growth and progression. When it comes to sports injuries related to upper limbs, one can either treat them first, or suppress the symptoms and continue training. The call taken depends upon two standpoints:

  1. ‘How bad the athlete wants to make history?’          OR
  2. ‘How safe is it to continue playing?’

Acknowledging the pain is the first step towards taking action and recognizing the injury helps in making a more mindful decision.



Article Credits – Nilesh Shende