13 yo girl wrist injury immobilized 5 months

by Concerned Mom

My 13 year old daughter injured her right wrist in a fencing tournament last September. She and another competitor clanged bells.

Later in the tournament she experienced extreme wrist pain when her opponent beat on her blade repeatedly. (35 inch blade with pistol grip, weighs approximately 8-10 ounces) She had also mentioned at the beginning of the day when she was preparing for competition that she moved her wrist and it felt weird (this was before any competition and she wasn't holding anything or picking anything up).

We were told by the EMT at the tourney it was a sprained wrist. We taped it, iced it and withdrew her from the next days competition.

She saw a chiropractor several times who did massage with a metal thing that looked kind of like a fat butter knife. She did not train for 2-3 weeks and then when back slowly. We told her to stop if she felt pain. She would wear a wrist brace most of the time for about a month. When she started competing again about 6 weeks later, we taped her wrist for support before bouts and used ice to prevent inflammation.

We noticed that she would be fine in the 12 yo division, but when she fenced up, she would fatigue quickly during direct elimination (14 division fences for a longer time period than 12 in direct elimination)

The pain seemed continually to nag at her during competition and a pediatrician father suggested in February that it might be an injury to the growth plate. We withdrew her from competition and went to see a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. X-ray was done and negative for growth plate. Finkelstein test indicated DeQuarvain's Tenosynovitis (sp?). The ortho put it in a hard cast isolating thumb straight out from knuckles to forearm for 6 weeks during March-April.

Cast came off and still pain. Prescribed physical therapy. Hand specialist exam indicated very loose ligaments in carpal bones on thumb side and a loud (audible across the room) clicking in the wrist on the pinky side when she isolated that muscle. She described pain on both side of the wrist and on top (back of hand side). They seemed to think dequarvain's was secondary to the underlying problem. They suggested we see a hand surgeon for further diagnosis.

Hand surgeon did
MRI which he said showed no indication of tendon or ligament issues. One view had tiny spotting and due to her continued pain, he thinks may be Kienbock's Syndrome, but not definitive. He said the treatment was the same for tendon, ligament, or Kienbock's and put her back in a hard (but removable) splint. He prescribed immobilization and to come back in a month.

Went back for follow up two weeks ago and due to continued pain, he gave her a cortisone shot on the thumb side of her wrist. Prescribed continued immobilization and a followup MRI in November (6 months from 1st) to evaluate possible Kienbock's development.

One other history note: She played violin from age 3-10 years old and experienced a clicky thumb in her bow hand (right hand) from time to time during that time.

Thank you for your insights.


Joshua Answers:

Hi CM.

Oh, that makes me so MAD!

While IMMOBILIZATION is the 'treatment' they use, it is NOT actually a treatment.

Technically maybe it is, but immobilization doesn't fix or help anything, and in fact, can and does make things worse.

See: Wrist splints and braces

So...where to start here...

1. Make sure you read this page to understand what Tendonitis is.

2. Make sure you understand about the Process of Inflammation.

3. Make sure you understand the Pain Causing Dynamic

That's the meat and potatoes of all this.

Then we'll talk about variables like loose joints, how 12 year olds can have tendonitis related problems, various nutritional aspects, and the Kienbock's thing, play a role.

Let me know when you've read those and we'll continue.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for 13 yo girl wrist injury immobilized 5 months

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Jul 25, 2011
Good reading, I learned a lot
by: Anonymous

I learned a lot from reading your links. My daughter decided to be vegetarian (really more of a pescetarian) for about a year and a half. This was all during her athletic activity as a fencer. I grew up vegetarian, so I knew how to make sure she was getting protein and she also ate eggs and milk and also fish-- she loves salmon and tuna in particular. With our busy lives there is a shortage of fresh veggies and fruits which i have already corrected in our home, but green leafies are still short and I will up those. I also started last night using your 2 hour plunge bath for her wrist. She was very cooperative (no small feat for a 13 yo!) so I am optimistic to continue that on a nightly basis.

The possibility of kienbock's is the foremost is my worrying right now. although the reading up I have done on the research is much more optimistic for pediatric cases than adult, so i am trying to temper my worry with that. I am afraid to do the ice massage you suggested because I don't know how that might affect kienbock's.

She also is a big texter (4000 msgs a month). I keep telling her to only use her left hand, but I do catch her using the right daily. I don't want to take the phone away, but... maybe I need to?

Aug 20, 2011
checking back
by: Anonymous

I read your links and learned some valuable information. I have had her doing the 10 second plunge in ice water technique.

I am interested to hear your thoughts.


Joshua Comments:

I'm curious, what is/was the cause of your fear re: ice dipping and Kienbocks?

I'd be happy to tell you my thoughts.

Eggs, milk, fish are GOOD. Assuming they're organic and pastured/wild, and in the case of the milk, unpastureized. There's 0 reason to drink pastureized homogenized milk. And many reasons not too. Raw milk is GOOD. Assuming it's not illegal in your state, but that that's a different makes-me-angry topic.

As for the rest, I'll stick with what I said earlier. For new thoughts, I need to know what she's doing (in relation to my earlier suggestions) and what's happening with that.

Feb 17, 2012
Seems like Wrist Tendonitis, push ups cause pain on back of wrist
by: Anna

I am 13 years old. I dance and do easily 20 push ups throughout the day. When I do push ups I get shooting pain in the back of my right wrist.

It only hurts for a few minutes after there is a lot of pressure on it or when I am holding something for a long time. Other than that it doesn't hurt. I broke my wrist when I was in kindergarten but I don't think that is a factor. So any clue??


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anna.

Yep, sounds like wrist tendonitis to me.

Which ultimately means that your muscles and connective tissue are too tight and are not allowing A. you full mobility of the wrist and B. full -strength-.

Since your muscles and firing optimally and can't handle the load, at best your wrist is getting compressed, painful, in the push up position.

The broken wrist absolutely is playing a role. Not the bone itself necessarily (although you could have bone growth that is a factor, I'd need to know more).

When the body is hurt, it responds with a Pain Causing Dynamic.

So you have a progressive dynamic of increasing muscle and connective tissue tightness and Inflammation.

So..what are you doing for self care to try to help this?

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