What are Yoga Injuries?
As yoga has grown in popularity, so have yoga-related injuries. While yoga encourages us to push past our limits, it should never be done at the expense of our body. Because yoga practitioners are constantly trying to achieve challenging and impressive asanas, this physical activity comes with the potential for injury. Many injuries related to yoga are a result of overuse and strain, so it is important to listen to your body’s cues during practice in order to prevent them.
Types of Yoga Injuries
Wrist pain is among the most common form of injury and discomfort in yoga. When ignored, it can lead to serious sprains, strains, or breaks. Irritation in the wrist commonly stems from improper body mechanics of the Downward Dog position, which can strain the bony and ligamentous complexes of the hand to the forearm. Elbows are another common injury site of yoga, stemming from bending them outward in positions like the Chaturanga.
Proper alignment during practice is a key factor in preventing sprains, strains, or breaks during yoga. Some common injuries include:
- Metacarpophalangeal joint dislocation: dislocation of the metacarpophalangeal joint.
- Interphalangeal joint dislocation: dorsal dislocation of the proximal interphalangeal joint.
- Phalangeal fracture: finger fractures.
- Volar plate avulsion: avulsion fracture of the finger.
- Wrist ligament injury: injury to the ligamentous tissue of the wrist.
Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Yoga Injuries
It is common to have pain and swelling in the affected region. In the case of finger dislocations, the digit may appear deformed or crooked. It may be difficult or painful to bend because the bones are no longer in correct alignment. Some patients report diminished sensation in the affected fingers. Ligamentous injuries may present with pain and swelling that worsens with movement. Some patients report hearing a “click” when operating an injured wrist after yoga practice.
Causes of Yoga Injuries
The most common cause of injury from yoga stems from improper body mechanics and pushing through discomfort in order to achieve an optimal position during practice. Patients are advised to listen to their body’s cues during practice in order to prevent serious injury. Additionally, it is strongly advised that patients do not let their instructor push or force their body into a position that the body is not yet ready to achieve.
Getting a Diagnosis for Yoga Injuries
Your surgeon will speak with you in order to understand how the injury happened while carefully examining the details of your injury. An X-ray will help evaluate the alignment of the bones in the hand, wrist, and forearm. Additionally, an MRI is beneficial in visualizing ligamentous injuries that an X-ray may not be able to detect.
Treatment Options for Yoga Injuries
In the event of a dislocation, your doctor will opt for a reduction of the injured region. Dislocated fingers may be treated with splinting or taping to provide support and stability. Ligamentous tears may be treated with splinting, anti-inflammatories, and therapy. More serious ligamentous tears may benefit from surgical intervention to repair the torn structures.
Ice and anti-inflammatory medication are typically sufficient in managing pain for dislocations because dislocated digits benefit immediately from relocation. Occupational therapy may be helpful in regaining strength and mobility of the digit. Ligamentous injuries benefit from a period of immobilization in order that the soft tissues may repair themselves naturally.
In the event of serious injury, surgery may be required to relocate joints and bones back into place. Unstable joints may fracture or dislocate if they do not receive surgical intervention. Additionally, a ligamentous injury involving a complete tear should consider surgical intervention in order to repair the torn structure. This is typically accomplished through arthroscopic minimally invasive surgery.
Preventing an Injury while Practicing Yoga
Patients should always be mindful of their body’s limitations and allow a gradual easing into yoga positions. Through a gradual stretching of the anatomy, the body will eventually achieve the yoga positions desired. Additionally, patients are strongly advised to not allow instructors to force their body into a position it is not ready to achieve yet. Proper body mechanics during difficult positions are important because bending or stretching the body against its design can lead to serious injury.
Prognosis for Yoga Injuries
Most patients can look forward to full recovery following an injury related to yoga. A period of immobilization followed by occupational therapy can assist in returning the injured regions of the body to full range of motion and strength. Some patients may be required to immobilize their hand, wrist, or forearm for a period of 2-4 weeks in the case of ligamentous injury, followed by a period of physical therapy.
If You Believe You Have a Yoga Injury, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing a Yoga Injury 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.