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What are Fly Fishing Injuries?

Fly fishing is an angling method that involves distinctive movements of the upper extremity. For example, proper casting technique involves repetitive movements until the full cast. Because of these repetitive movements, overuse or strains and sprain injuries may occur.

Although acute injuries are uncommon, lacerations to the hand and arm are possible due to falls and hooks, or using gear that is too heavy for the fisherman’s level of skill.

Types of Fly Fishing Injuries

The most common injury seen in fly fishermen occurs from repetitive elbow and wrist swinging movements. This results in an injury known angler’s elbow, where inflammation of the tendon of insertion of wrist and finger extension muscles on the outside of the elbow produces pain on flexion and extension of the elbow and wrist.

Lacerations to the finger and hand are possible due to improper handling of equipment and falls.. Acute injuries to the hand or wrist from falling while navigating and walking through moving waters and slippery rocks.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Fly Fishing Injuries

Angler’s elbow is a result of repetitive angling motions above the fisherman’s head. These movements result in swelling, inflammation, and pain in the elbow due to inflammation of the extensor tendon insertion at the elbow.

You might have angler’s elbow if you experience:

  • Pain or burning on the outside of your elbow.
  • Weakness on the outside of your elbow.
  • Weak grip strength.

Causes of Fly Fishing Injuries Injuries

Angler’s elbow can occur in beginner or advanced fisherman due to repetitive angling movements above the head. Stretching before beginning in the morning is paramount. One of the most common causes of this injury is from overuse. You can avoid this injury by the use of proper fishing equipment, resting your fishing arm between fishing trips, and not overextending your arms while fishing.

Other common causes include:

  • Flipping and jerk bait fishing.
  • Using a heavier line weight.
  • Prolonged casting.
  • Errors in casting.

Getting a Diagnosis for Fly Fishing Injuries

Most fly fishing injuries are diagnosed from observing a limited range of motion, pain, or tenderness. X-rays are helpful. MRIs may be ordered if the injury grade is under consideration due to delayed healing. Pain may be intermittent, leading patients to believe the injury resolved on its own. Consider consulting a surgeon at the first sign of pain or weakness. If you suspect an injury due to fly fishing, schedule an appointment with a highly skilled hand surgeon to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Fly Fishing Injuries

If you suspect you have angler’s elbow as a result of fly fishing, cease fly fishing activity. Rest your arm following an injury and cease strenuous activity until the affected region has been evaluated by a surgeon for an accurate diagnosis. Surgical intervention may be required in unattended, chronic and severe cases. Your surgeon may initially recommend the R.I.C.E method  to assist in relieving stress to any strained muscle groups or tendons:

  • Rest: avoid using your elbow while it is healing.
  • Ice: use an ice pack for 15-20 minutes a day.
  • Compression: judiciously applied compression bandages can help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: keep your elbow above your heart to reduce swelling.

Conservative Treatments

Common treatments for this condition are rest, corticosteroid injections, and NSAIDS. These can aid in the body naturally restoring form and function to the affected region. There are five main approaches to non-surgical intervention of angler’s elbow:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • Steroid injections to reduce swelling and pain.
  • The use of a splint to support the elbow.
  • Resting and icing the affected area(s).
  • Physical therapy.

Surgical Treatments

The goal of surgery for angler’s elbow repairs the damaged tendon in order to ease pain and help to restore range of motion and strength in the arm. The surgery can be done in one of two ways: open surgery or arthroscopic. Patients may be awake or nap during the procedure,  using regional block anesthesia and sedation. Drs. Pruzansky can help you decide which of several surgical methods would be best for your case.

Preventing an Injury while Fly Fishing

The use of proper fishing equipment and proper body mechanics while angling can prevent overuse injuries from forming. Rest in conjunction with stretching and strengthening exercises may alleviate the condition. Proper rest between fishing trips by not overextending the elbow and wrist or overusing it may also help.

Prognosis for Fly Fishing Injuries

Most patients can quickly return to their full activities. Surgery generally restores full return of function. Physical therapy is recommended to optimize mobility and pain relief for angler’s elbow.

If You Believe You Have a Fly Fishing Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing an injury from fly fishing 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, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start to restore comfort to your hand.

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