A hidden mismatch between experiences of young athletes with overuse injuries of the wrist and sports physicians' perceptions: a focus group study

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BACKGROUND: Although overuse wrist injuries can have serious consequences, young athletes often do not immediately report their injury to a physician. This qualitative study aimed to identify symptoms and limitations related to overuse wrist injuries that young athletes consider important and to compare those with sports physicians' opinions, in order to improve the diagnostic process for early identification of overuse wrist injuries. METHODS: Twenty-one athletes aged 13-25 years in wrist-loading sports (gymnastics, tennis, judo, field hockey, volleyball and rowing) with a (previous) overuse wrist injury were included. In five focus groups, participants discussed important signals and limitations of their injury, as well as a list of relevant items previously composed by sports physicians. Data were grouped into themes and (sub)categories and subsequently coded. RESULTS: Of the resulting 224 signals and 80 limitations, respectively 81 and 20 were labelled important. Athletes considered both pain and limitations during daily life activities important indicators of overuse wrist injury, as well as long pain duration, acute onset of pain, and accompanying symptoms like swelling, cracking and discoloration. All of the sports physicians' items were also considered important by the athletes, but sport-related pain and limitations were regarded by many athletes as a natural part of their sport. CONCLUSIONS: Discrepancies exist between the opinions of young athletes and sports physicians on sport-related pain reporting and competing regardless of pain or limitations. Although clinicians may be inclined to focus on these aspects, they are advised to also inquire specifically about limitations and pain during daily life activities in young athletes with overuse wrist injuries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number235
Pages (from-to)235
JournalBMC musculoskeletal disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019


  • Early detection
  • Focus group
  • Outcome measures
  • Paediatrics
  • Pain
  • Qualitative research
  • Sports injury
  • Wrist
  • Young athlete

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