What are Taekwondo Injuries?
Taekwondo is a high-contact sport consisting of quick and powerful strikes and kicks with maximal force. Athletes should maintain control of their form at all times in order to avoid serious injury. The most common injuries are acute muscular injuries from blows or pulled muscles from exertion or falls.
Types of Taekwondo Injuries
When an athlete has been injured once, they have an increased risk for sustaining the same injury again. Because of this, and the amount of physical force utilized in Taekwondo, injuries to the hand, wrist, and elbow are extremely common. This may mean that the athlete will need to take a break from competing in order to fully recover, depending on the type and severity of their injury.
Common injuries to the arm include:
- Bennett’s Fracture: fracture of the base of the first metacarpal bone.
- Boxer’s Fracture: a break in the neck of the metacarpal.
- Carpal instability: loss of normal alignment of the carpal bones.
- Extensor carpi ulnaris tendinitis: inflammation of the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon.
- Perilunate dislocation: perilunate fracture dislocations.
- Sagittal band and extensor aponeurosis injuries: traumatic extensor tendon dislocation.
- Elbow fracture: damage to the olecranon.
- Interphalangeal joint dislocation: dislocation of the MCP joint.
- Phalangeal fracture: finger fractures/dislocations.
Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Taekwondo Injuries
Taekwondo-related injuries can occur at any time during sparring, training, and even during live contests. They may occur over a period of time (chronic injuries) or they may be sustained from trauma (acute). The degree of injury is determined by the amount of force used and the nature of the trauma.
Injuries range from swelling and inflammation to breaks and fractures and may be distinguished by immobility in the affected region, tenderness, swelling, or bruising.
Some of the most common symptoms of Taekwondo injuries may include:
- Decreased range of motion
Causes of Taekwondo Injuries
Because Taekwondo is a high contact sport, injuries are often sustained from forceful physical contact or improper body mechanics. This includes forceful contact both given and received by competitors. Athletes may become injured from one or all of the following:
- Physical contact
- Acute trauma
- Sudden force
- Sudden impact
Getting a Diagnosis for Taekwondo Injuries
An X-ray will typically be ordered to assist in making a definitive diagnosis. An X-ray will confirm the diagnosis and provide information about how many broken pieces there are and whether the pieces have moved out of place.
Sometimes a CT scan is helpful to evaluate complex multi-fragment fractures.
Most injuries are easily recognizable due to swelling, deformity of the region or bruising.
Treatment Options for Taekwondo Injuries
In many cases, treatments range from sling or splint immobilization, corticosteroid injections, and NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, to complex reconstructive surgery of the bones and ligaments. The R.I.C.E.R approach is effective in minimizing swelling to the injury.
- Rest: resting the injured part, and remove the participant from the activity.
- 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.
- Compress: prudently compress the area with bandages to hold the ice pack in place and prevent swelling.
- Elevate: elevate the injured part above the level of the heart to help reduce the blood flow to the injury.
- Refer: refer to a professional for treatment for continued management
Treatments for Taekwondo injuries range from immobilization using a sling and splinting to complex reconstructive surgery of the bones and ligaments. However, whenever possible, conservative treatments are preferred.
Immobilization allows the body to repair itself. In some cases, rest, corticosteroid injections, and NSAIDS are sufficient in promoting healing without surgical intervention. Corticosteroids are beneficial in providing immediate pain relief in some cases.
Surgical intervention may be required in cases where sling or immobilization techniques do not work. Some patients may require repair of ligamentous tissue, improperly aligned breaks, or surgical excision of bone tissue or scar tissue.
Patients should always seek medical intervention after experiencing pain during or after a competition. Prompt diagnosis can lead to an improved overall prognosis.
Preventing an Injury while Practicing Taekwondo
Preventing injury while practicing Taekwondo involves utilizing well-fitted safety gear and preventative countermeasures to prevent a negative effect on the athlete’s career. 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, padding, and/or bracing).
Prognosis for Taekwondo Injuries
Injuries requiring a splint or cast usually require a patient to be immobilized briefly. In patients requiring surgical intervention, a longer immobilization period may be required, following physical therapy to try to restore mobility and range of motion. Physical therapy may be required for an additional 2-4 months to maximize mobility and comfort following a severe Taekwondo injury.
If You Believe You Have a Taekwondo Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing Taekwondo 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.