Any person who competes in sport has likely sustained many injuries. Let me tell you, I am not excluded from this group. In fact, I could probably fill this page with a list of injuries I have sustained over the years (not to brag…). But let’s just talk about one of those which I suffered playing footy (almost always the culprit).
The day of the injury
The day was a practise match following a solid pre-season. The body was feeling good, I was fit and as most footballers eventually get to, I was sick of pre-season and itching to start playing games. Fast forward through the day, we came to the start of the 3rd quarter, I think I had 28 disposals and a goal to this point (don’t believe anything I say about how many touches I’ve had). The ball gets kicked to a contest and I must have forgotten that I’m 174cm tall and shouldn’t be trying to take hangers over a pack, but I launch anyway. I don’t even get close and on the way down my natural reaction was to put my hand down to break my fall. As I land, I feel as though I’ve sprained my wrist but I jump back up to hide the embarrassment of the marking attempt and continue on.
Wrist Injury Worsens
The next time I head to the bench, I get it strapped because I know I’ve injured it, but the pain was minimal making me think it wasn’t too much more than a sprain. I played on and finished the game without too much concern. The pain did start to worsen as we came into the change rooms and started to cool down. At this point I started to think there was a small chance that I had fractured my scaphoid, which is a small bone at the base of the thumb. However, in my head, I thought that if it was fractured, I should be in more pain. So I went home and iced it while I got ready for a night out with some mates.
For a good portion of the night I complained about my wrist hurting much to my mates’ amusement. Most of the complaining was on purpose and as a joke to annoy everyone. In fact, I complained so much that one of my mates decided to whack my wrist laughing and saying it was fine (thanks Matt!).
The next morning, I woke up and my wrist was stiff and swollen. I knew straight away, it wasn’t just a sprain and I’d likely fractured my scaphoid. I got up and drove off to the hospital with X-Rays confirming my suspicion.
Unfortunately, with any scaphoid fracture, the location is important. At one end (as long as aligned), the scaphoid will heal nicely without intervention because it has a good blood supply. At the other end, surgery is usually required to fixate the separated bones together because this area has a poor blood supply.
Of course, mine ended with surgery. An injury that caused very minimal pain at the time, ended up being 8 weeks recovery and rehab.
The Lesson I Learnt
This story highlights the importance of getting even what seems like the most simple ‘wrist sprain’ assessed by a health professional. A scaphoid fracture in the area of poor blood supply that is NOT treated brings with it a chance of that section of bone dying (called avascular necrosis). This will then lead to significantly reduced range of motion and strength as well as further complications down the track.
Remember, significant injury does not always mean significant pain and significant pain does not always mean significant injury.