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3 Common Types of Upper Extremity Injuries

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Almost anyone can experience upper extremity injuries, but it can mostly happen to athletes, active people, and professionals who do insistent motion using their hands and wrists. The upper extremities of our body perform the most important, everyday functions, so that is why it is prone to injuries.  

Listed below are the three most common types of upper extremity injuries cited by our occupational therapist in Miami. You will learn more about wrist sprain, tennis elbow and frozen shoulder injuries along with their respective signs and symptoms.

According to our experts, the main symptoms of upper extremity injuries are:

  • Joint and muscle pain in the affected area
  • Lack of physical strength
  • Partial or total lack of sensation
  • Twitching sensations
  • Loss of control and motion
  • Swelling in the affected part
  • Bruising or contusions

Health care professionals gauge the level of upper extremity injuries through tapping the affected part, evaluating range of motion, executing x-rays or other types of scans, and utilizing other forms of diagnostic tests. After proper diagnosis, a treatment plan can include surgery, pain medications, physical therapy, compression therapy, or a combination of other treatment methods. The ultimate goal of the treatment is for the patient to return to his or her normal activity as soon as possible. Most patients are referred to an occupational therapist for injury management, rehabilitation, acute care, age care and mental health care.

The three common types of upper extremity injuries include:


  • Wrist sprain


A sprain occurs when an injury or tear happens to the ligaments, while a strain is a result of an extensive muscle stretch or a tear.  The most common amongst the two is the acute hand or wrist sprain. Chronic wrist injuries are more common to gymnast, golfers and rowers. Most doctors perform x-rays to make sure bones are not fractured. After that process, an MRI scan may be necessary to see the degree of injury in the soft tissues.


  • Tennis elbow


Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylalgia – a condition where the outer border of the elbow becomes inflamed and painful. The cause is usually an over usage of the arm, forearm and the hand muscles. Most tennis players have a higher risk of experiencing this type of injury. If you are experiencing any of the following, you are most likely suffering from a tennis elbow:

  • Pain progresses around the elbow
  • Pain increases when squeezing objects or shaking hands
  • Pain is worsened through wrist movements
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  • Frozen shoulder


Frozen shoulder is also referred to as adhesive capsulitis, the condition is usually experienced through swelling and stiffness of the articular shoulder, leading to mobility restriction. Most of the time frozen shoulder only affects one or the other side of the shoulder, only one in five cases affects both shoulders. Frozen shoulder occurs when a person is unable to move a part of their body due to an injury, chronic pain, diabetes and stroke. It can also develop through the following:

  • Post-surgery of injury
  • Age related conditions
  • Post-menopausal women

If you are suffering from these types of injuries or conditions, your occupational therapist can help you with your overall recovery, so you can regain proper function and  independence.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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