[TYPE OF JOINT: ELLIPSOID] The wrist’s collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage forms the body’s most complex joint. Because it’s not weight-bearing, it’ll likely provide problem-free mobility for a lifetime— unless you injure it.
TOP THREAT: SCAPHOID FRACTURE WHAT IT IS:
A break in the scaphoid bone, one of eight small carpal bones in the wrist. (Stick out your thumb hitchhiker style: The scaphoid is under that little divot at the base of your thumb.) Scaphoid breaks account for about 70 percent of carpal fractures.
Usually falling palm down on an outstretched hand
A cast or splint that immobilizes the thumb for about six weeks can treat most fractures, especially close to the thumb, where there’s good blood circulation. If bones are displaced, aren’t healing, or show signs of decay due to poor blood supply, you may need surgery to align them.
If you don’t want to quit the sports most likely to break wrists— soccer, hockey, in-line skating—wear wrist guards and/ or learn to tuck and roll.
FUTURE-PROOF YOUR WRISTS:
A triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear entails damage to the cartilage on the pinkie-finger side of the wrist that supports and cushions the carpal bones. TFCC tears cause pain near the pinkie, especially when bending the wrist from side to side. As with a scaphoid fracture, it can stem from falling on an outstretched hand.
If an X-ray doesn’t show a scaphoid fracture immediately, wait. Small breaks often don’t appear until 10 to 14 days after injury, when poor blood supply causes bone decay that’s more visible on a scan. Wrist still hurting after that? X-ray it again.
ELLIPSOID In a modified balland-socket, the rounded end of one bone (or multiple bones) moves against a shallow, elliptical cavity in another, allowing a wide range of movement.