In 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball endured a difficult season plagued by injuries. In trying to adjust to the new MLB tournament format, the team missed the playoffs, and they starting losing players to injuries; such was the case with Ke’Bryan Kobe Hayes, a third baseman who played for much of the season with pernicious soreness of his left wrist. Hayes suffered a wrist injury at bat during the opening series for which the Pirates traveled to Chicago; he swung hard at a fastball that ended up straining his left wrist. Forced to recover while still playing, the pain subsided but left a gradually debilitating discomfort.
Hayes will be working with Dr. Ken Kaufman during the off-season in order to get his wrists back into slugging shape. Dr. Kaufman is a chiropractor with plenty of professional baseball experience; prior to joining the Pirates, he was part of the spring training program for the Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates were one of the last MLB franchises to include chiropractors as part of their sports medicine teams, but they are now making regular use of them. The scope of chiropractic therapy involves the entire, particularly the joints and connective tissue, and this makes them highly ideal to work with professional baseball players.
Wrist pain is a condition that many baseball players deal with. In many cases, this pain is caused by injuries, which is what happened to Hayes early in the 2021 season. Discomfort that starts at the wrist and extends down to the hand or upwards to the arms is often the result of stress placed on the radiocarpal joint. The wrists of baseball players are constantly getting worked out and stressed not just during games but also during practice; there is a good chance that Hayes did not fully recover, but he will have time to do so with his chiropractor now.
How Chiropractic Care Helps With Wrist Problems
As previously explained, the work of chiropractic specialists is not limited to spinal adjustments; all the structures that connect parts of the musculoskeletal system fall under the scope of these healthcare professionals, and this is why so many athletes seek their treatment. Issues related to the radiocarpal joints, which are among the most complex in our body, are routinely treated by chiropractors.
Wrist joints require proper care in order to keep them functioning at adequate levels. When you find yourself struggling with wrist pain, stiffness, or inflammation, the problem may not always be solved by orthopedic care, which means that discomfort and lack of strength may remain even after surgeries, support splints, or medications. This is when chiropractic care is usually recommended for a more rehabilitative approach; with the right adjustments and motion therapy, the radiocarpal joints can be brought back to their optimal strength plus range of motion.
Tendonitis and Tendinosis of the Wrist
Our hands, fingers, and wrists are connected by more than 100 tendons and ligaments. The extensor and flexor tendons of our wrists allow us to perform numerous actions such as:
- Turning door knobs.
- Chopping vegetables with a knife.
- Grabbing and lifting objects.
- Pushing furniture.
Tendons are extremely resilient; nonetheless, they are not impervious to unexpected injuries such as not having the right grip on a baseball bat when trying to connect a power swing. These ligaments are more prone to swelling when they are subjected to repetitive stress that can cause small and cumulative tearing.
Whereas tendonitis refers to an inflammatory condition, tendinosis is a different problem that presents degeneration. In the aforementioned case of an MLB player, there is a greater chance of tendinosis because the tendons may not have fully healed, and we know that the rigorous schedule of the regular season is filled with situations in which tendons do not get enough time to rest and recuperate.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This condition, which is quite common, causes pain and numbness of the fingers, comes from within the carpal tunnel space that starts at the median nerve of the wrist. In other words, CTS is a condition that emanates from wrist tension issues. You may have heard about CTS being a problem that affects many writers, programmers, and prep cooks; these are all professions that call for repetitive hand and finger motion, and chiropractors are used to treating these patients with plans that feature wrist adjustment as well as advice on how to prevent this from happening again.
It is easy to think about piano players being more likely to develop CTS, and some of them do, but this musical performance discipline has a strong focus on wrist posture and doing preventive exercises. These exercises encourage muscle memory that pianists should apply when playing forte and staccato arpeggios. The physical therapy regimes prescribed by chiropractors who treat CTS include some flexion exercises similar to those taught by piano teachers. Tennis, baseball, and hockey players also work on
Double Crush Syndrome
When nerve fibers connected to the spine are compressed, they can cause a neuropathic condition that extends to peripheral nerves; this is commonly referred to as double crush syndrome, and it can result in a combination of lower back discomfort and wrist pain. A misaligned spine, also known as subluxation, can cause pain away from the back. Sciatica pain is one of the most common signs of this condition, but some cases may feature sore wrists and elbows.
Chiropractors who suspect double crush syndrome in their patients will start their treatments with spinal adjustment sessions before moving on to the wrist or other affected parts of the body. Many patients will report feeling less bothered by their wrists after a couple of sessions, and then it is easier for practitioners to focus on adjusting the wrist and proceeding with rehabilitative exercises.
Chiropractic Treatments for Wrist Pain
Let’s say your symptoms suggest tendonitis of the wrist. A visit to the chiropractor will start with a series of assessments to determine whether the condition may actually be related to double crush syndrome, CTS, or tendinosis. Here are some of the steps that may follow:
- If the inflammation is ascertained, this would be symptomatically addressed initially. Bracing the wrist may be recommended if you still need to use it frequently and on a daily basis. Other methods to reduce the swelling may include applying ice or using ultrasound therapy.
- Once the edema has been reduced to a manageable level, chiropractic massage therapy and wrist adjustment may follow. If there are signs of subluxation, this step will include spinal adjustments.
- The purpose of the joint adjustments is to restore ROM without causing pain. After this has been achieved, the chiropractor will work towards breaking down scar tissue that may have formed around the tendons and ligaments.
- Physical therapy exercises and ergonomic measures similar to those practiced by piano players will culminate the treatment for a full recovery and future prevention.
Patients who have experience popping of the wrist along with discomfort may need to undergo light therapy to increase flexibility. As long as the popping occurs without pain, this is not something to worry about.
The chiropractic process of treating wrist pain will not be the same for all patients. If you have suffered from a dislocated wrist, which is a painful condition that often occurs to gymnasts and breakdancers, you cannot expect to be cured from one day to the next. This is an injury that will take time to heal; your chiropractor will make the necessary adjustments and guide you through therapy conducive to regaining strength, but this needs to be accomplished gradually.
Finally, severe wrist injuries may require medical intervention prior to chiropractic treatment. Diagnostic imaging ordered by the chiropractor will determine if this is a pressing need. Keep in mind that the rehabilitation component of chiropractic treatment is crucial when it comes to alleviating wrist pain; all patients must make conscious efforts to adhere to physical therapy exercises, which are never designed to be overly strenuous.