What are main mechanisms of injuries to the upper extremity?


What are main mechanisms of injuries to the upper extremity?


The most common injury mechanisms of the upper extremity are a fall on an outstretched hand or a direct blow, but each segment also has specific mechanisms. Clavicle fractures can result from a fall on an outstretched arm, a fall on the point of the shoulder, or a direct blow to the clavicle.

There are different causes of athletic injuries, these injuries also happen all around the body. As the term mechanical implies, the injuries are caused generally by forces from a blow, fall, and twist or otherwise, these forces are physical or mechanical to cause tear, inflammation, sprain, strain, fracture, and dislocation etc of the extremities.

In this article, you will be able to define and explain the key terms, mention common areas involve in Athletics, state the different structures affected and discuss their symptoms and treatment.


Common areas involve in Athletic Injuries

1. Head and Spine Injuries

This together is referred to as the ‘central nervous system, which control all the body activities through the ‘Sensory Neuron’ and the ‘Motor Neuron’. The control of the body activities i.e body gland organs and other parts of the body is done by the control of nervous systems in a ‘checks and balance process.

The process is produced by

(a) The Parasympathetic system and

(b) The Sympathetic system.

Injuries to the head or brain and to the spine or column could be very risky or dangerous. Parasympathetic-control is for all the voluntary activities and actions, and sympathetic-controls are for the voluntary activities or actions.

2. Head and Brain Injuries

The head is the body structure that cage or house the very sensitive organs, the brain. Unless otherwise, sports injuries to the head and spine are always ‘traumatic’ from a direct blow, fall or landing, vibration of the head, collision, etc. Injuries to the head or head injuries will include fracture, dislocation and sub luxation, contused injuries and brain concussion and hemorrhage.

3. Unconsciousness Information

Consciousness is an interference which is concerned with the function of the brain. The seriousness or level of unconsciousness can be determined by testing the actuality’s responses to sound or touch.

 a. Level of Responses: The levels of responses are the stages which a casualty passes during progression from the conscious level to unconsciousness.

Stage 1. Responses normal to questions and conversation.

Stage III, He regularly responds to questions.

Stage IV. He obeys only commands.

Stage V. He responds to pains only.

Stage VI. He does not respond at all.

In general, there are basically two stages of unconsciousness.

1. STUPOR: At this stage the casualty react to light.

2. COMA: Here the casualty does not react to light nor stimuli.

b. Treatment:

1. Maintain the airways open.

2. Remove any lose dentures or detached teeth and clear the mouth of any vomit or blood.

3. Loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest or waist.

4. Where breathing cease start artificial ventilation immediately

5. Proper examination to find other causative factors

6. Place him on a lateral position (i.e face sideways with chest abdomen on the floor).

7. Manage serious wounds, fracture e.t.c.

8. Where the injury is of spine, do not remove the patient

9. Check level of responsiveness of the pulse breathing e.t.c

10. Reassurance when recovered.

This normally occurs in children between the ages of 1- 4. It is accompanied with raised temperature which could be as a result of infectious disease, throat or ear infection.

c. Symptoms and Signs:

· High fever

· Flushing and sweating

· Twitching of muscles

· Upturned eyes (shunting)

· Stiffness of head, back and spine.

· Held breath

· Face congestion

· Throth from the mouth foams



1. Maintain airways and ensure fresh air

2. Loosen all tight dressing

3. Treat as unconscious patient

4. Cold sponging to cool down temperature

5. Shift him to hospital.

Concussion – classified into – mild, moderate and sever injuries – symptoms – headache, dizziness, nausea, and symptoms of disorientation and confusion, stalking at the point of contact – caused by temporary stoppage of blood supply to the brain.

Injuries are inevitable and sports with higher risk of injuries to the head include; gymnastics, basketball, soccer, football, rodeo, diving or water sports and extreme sports.

Every injury to the human is a potential risk and serious that could not only ‘maim and mars but in capacitate, but cause death, including sports injuries.

With the examples of players dieing on the pitch of play, the like of ‘SamuelOkparaji and so many others’. It is very needful to educate every stakeholder, at all levels, in sports, about sports medicine (sports injuries)

4. Joints Injuries

Joints or ‘articulations’ allow movement according to their range of motion. There are three categories of joints: 1. Fibrous: (immoveable joints) includes bones of the cranium or skull e.t.c 2. Cartilaginous; (slightly moveable) includes the elbow, knee, finger e.t.c the joint provides the force or forces which every human action or movement takes place including sporting activities. This is possible by the articulation of the bones (to allow human structural movement) and the musculo-tendinous contraction. Hence, injuries to these basic human structures could be very serious.


Mechanism of Athletic Injuries to the Upper Extremities Trunk Injuries

 This is the cage like structure that forms the main part of the human body. This cage like structure is also known as the ‘thoracic’ who housed the vital organs of the body (the heart, lungs, kidneys e.t.c).

It is formed by the articulation of the ribs the sternum and the thoracic vertebral. Injuries to this part of the body is from fall, hits blows to the parts of the trunk, structures like ligaments tears, ribs or diaphragm strains or pains.


Athletic Injuries to the Upper Extremities

Injuries to the Spine

The Vertebral Colum consists of 26 bone segments called the ‘vertebrae’. The column permits three (3) movements, namely, flexion, extension and rotation. The inter-vertebral disc and opposing curves permit flexibility or resilience.

The spine also serves as support and attachment for the ribs and muscles, and for the pelvis and head. It serves as a shock absorber, a body weight distributor, and as a factor in locomotion.

Sources of sports injuries to the spine, include: the way American football is played – driving the head, into an opponent’s body during dribbling and passing the ball, causing the bones of the column to fused together, or rupturing the case, the head is driven into a shallow water: in this case the head is driven into the basement of the pool, thereby causing the column to also crack, break or dislocate together and rupturing the bony arrangement of the spine.

Another example is the American wrestling; generally the nature of most sports becomes sources of injuries to the athletes.

Most common injuries include;

i. Cartilage tear as in American wrestling

ii. Ribs strain and sprain also in American wrestling

iii. Compression injuries resulting to ribs cracks from severe extended falls. Although a good conditioning programming with good protective equipment’s, when used, will minimize the impacted injuries.

iv. Injuries to the shoulder Joint: the shoulder joint is an insecure joint formed by the articulation of the humorous with the glenoid fossa of the scapula.

It possesses a remarkable free rotational movement as a result of the looseness of the capsules and the ligament surrounding it which allows a considerable range of movements since the joint maintain its integrity mostly through ligamentous structures, it is susceptible to server strains and torsion, dislocation and luxation.

Injuries to the Shoulder

American wrestling or football, soccer etc provides good examples of sports injuries sources to the shoulder, the shoulder been used as a driving force or landing pad during American football or wrestling respectively. In tumbling activities as in gymnastics and Judo, the shoulder is used as the point of contact with the mat using own weight and the opponent weight to provide the force.

The Elbow

Joint formed by the articulation of the humerus and the radius and ulna bones. It is majorly secured by the radial collateral and annular ligament structures, supported by the Olecranon to check hyperextension process which may sometimes be ruptured in an attempt of hyper-extension of the joint.

Sports like tennis contribute to injuries to the elbow joint, known as ‘Tennis elbow’. Other sports that can result to injuries to the elbow joint include Javelin throwing. Other sports that carries increased risk of injuries include; Hockey, Rugby, Ice Skating, Baseball, Skateboarding etc.

The injuries to the elbow joint and hand include fracture, dislocation and subluxations, contusions sprains. Sports that contribute injuries to the wrist and hand of the athletes mainly include, Basketball, Volleyball, and American Football, soccer, Gymnastics, etc.

Injuries to the Wrist and Hand

This joint permit mainly flexors and extensors the joint is formed by the articulation of the navicular, carpals and metacarpals, and the phalanges. It is supported and fortified by the retinaculum, the ulnar nerve, Flexor capercaillies, median nerve, Flexor carpi ulnar is, carpal tunnel and Flexor digitorum superficialis structures.


Conclusion on the main mechanisms of injuries to the upper extremity

It is well assumed that you have learnt the information in the post.

Upper extremities affect the appendicular skeleton as well as the muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves that cover the bones. Dislocations and Subluxations are as serious as fractures to an athlete because these injuries involve the soft tissues. Often, Soft tissues injuries (Sprains, Strains, tendonitis, etc, can result in significantly limited range of motion and require long complex rehabilitation programme. Proper assessment of such injuries is vital to appropriate treatment.

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