Dr. Mark E. Pruzansky
Dr. Jason S. Pruzansky
975 Park Avenue New York, NY 10028


What are Hapkido Injuries?

Hapkido, the Korean art of self-defense, is a form of martial arts that employs joint locks, grappling, throwing, kicking, punching, and other striking attacks. Hapkido stands apart from other forms of Korean martial arts in that the focus is to deflect your opponent’s attacks. Punching, throwing, joint-locking, and grappling are the main techniques of this art, which may pose a risk to the structures of the arm during practice.

Types of Hapkido Injuries

Because the practice of Hapkido is focused on deflecting the opponent’s attacks, athletes may sustain damage to the hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow. Fractures and dislocations are the most common kind of injury athletes sustain during a competition or practice. Injuries may be chronic or they may result from acute trauma. FOOSH injuries are also commonplace—falling on an outstretched hand.

Common hapkido injuries to the arm include:

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Hapkido Injuries

Hapkido injuries can occur at any time during sparring, training, or contests. Pain, swelling, and bruising are common in the affected area. Because injuries sustained from hapkido are similar to other martial arts, the clinical expression may be similar: pain when using and moving the affected region, inability to grasp or pinch fingers, or pain while lifting.

Other symptoms of injury may include:

  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased range of motion

Causes of Hapkido Injuries

Hapkido is a high contact physical sport with blocks, parries, and standing throw maneuvers. There is a high potential for injury from forceful physical contact or improper body mechanics while practicing or during competition. Injury sustained from forceful contact given and received both have the potential to result in physical injury.

Athletes may become injured from one or all of the following:

  • Physical contact
  • Acute trauma
  • Sudden force
  • Sudden impact

Getting a Diagnosis for Hapkido Injuries

Your experienced hand surgeon will perform a physical examination of the affected region. This examination may demonstrate discomfort with extension, flexion, or resistive movements. Many injuries are easily distinguishable due to swelling and deformity of the region.

However, an X-ray will be ordered to provide useful information for diagnosis of injury to the bone and even some of the ligaments.

Because injuries to the bone often damage the surrounding soft tissues, an MRI or CT scan may be ordered to evaluate complex multi-fragment fractures or to provide imagery of ligamentous tissues.

Treatment Options for Hapkido Injuries

In most cases, treatment for hapkido injuries will range from rest, brief sling or splint immobilization, NSAIDs, and sometimes a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation.

More severe injuries may require complex reconstructive surgery of the bones and ligaments. Because injuries to the soft tissues occur alongside injuries to the bone, patients may experience painful swelling or loss of motion even if the bone is not seriously injured.

Additionally, patients may practice the R.I.C.E.R method when approved and supervised by their medical professional, which is useful in promoting healing. Possible examples include:

  • Rest: resting the injured part, and remove the participant from the
  • Ice: ice the injured area for 20 minutes every 2 hours for the first 24
    hours and then 20 minutes every 4 hours for the next 24 hours protecting the skin from excessive cold and damage.
  • Compress: compress the area judiciously with a bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate: elevate the injured part above the level of the heart to help reduce
  • Refer: refer to a professional for treatment for continued management

Conservative Treatments

Conservative treatment options for Hapkido injuries range from rest from the sport to immobilization using a splint or sling. Immobilization facilitates repair in most injuries. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend early mobilization and NSAIDs in conjunction with intermittent rest to promote healing. Corticosteroids are useful in providing immediate pain relief in some cases.

Surgical Treatments

The goal of surgery is to restore anatomy of the musculoskeletal structures. Surgical intervention may range from minimally invasive to more involved techniques. Sometimes fractured or dislocated joints may be returned to their position surgically and held in place with  screws, plates, pins, spiints, or other methods of immobilization.

Your injury may require surgical intervention if the ligamentous tissue is greatly damaged or if your injury does not respond to conservative methods. Some injuries require repair of ligamentous tissue, improperly aligned fractures, or excision of ectopic bone or scar tissue.

In injuries where ligamentous or bony tissues are severely damaged grafts from the patient or the tissue bank may be considered.

Preventing an Injury while Practicing Hapkido

Resting between competitions and after practice can have a marked effect on prior injuries and sore muscles and joints prone to stress.

In order to prevent injury while practicing hapkido, patients should utilize well-fitted safety gear and preventative countermeasures to try to avoid a chronic injury.

These include:

  • Getting a physical exam before participating.
  • Practice under direct supervision from an experienced teacher.
  • Proper warm-up and cool-down routines.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment (gloves, mouth guard, headgear, chest protector, padding, and/or bracing).

Prognosis for Hapkido Injuries

Injuries that can be treated with immobilization and rest may require a brief period away from the sport. Rehab to reduce reconditioning is advisable. weeks. Patients who require surgical intervention may require a period or immobilization followed by physical therapy to optimize mobility and comfort.

Physical therapy may be required for an additional 2-4 months depending on the severity of the injury.

If You Believe You Have a Hapkido Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing hapkido injuries should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.

If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis.