Play It Safe: How to handle Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome
The Ryder Cups swings onto our screens today! If you’re an avid golf lover and player, then you will definitely have felt the benefits of golf. From decreased stress levels, to getting in your 10,000 steps, there is no doubt that golf is good for you… but nothing ruins your game more than a golfing injury! While golf may be perceived as a low impact sport, it can be common to suffer from acute or overuse injuries. Now we don’t want to drive a wedge between you and your love for golf, but we do want to address Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome and how you can treat and avoid it!
What is Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome (HHS)?
As clinicians, we often encounter clients with hand or finger pain. HHS occurs due to repeated blunt trauma to the hypothenar portion of the hand, thus leading to ulnar artery damage.
Who could be affected?
HHS is generally described as a rare condition, however, it may occur more frequently than we think. Studies have shown that often HHS occurs in athletes who experience trauma to the palm. These include baseball, badminton, mountain biking, golf, tennis, weightlifting, break-dancing and hockey. Most frequently HHS occurs in men in their 30s and 40s and involves the dominant hand. Other occupations that involve frequent use of a tool to hammer, push or squeeze hard objects could also be affected by HHS.
What does this mean?
HHS is related to the anatomy of the ulnar artery as it goes into the palm through the Guyon’s canal. This segment is very susceptible to injury as it is superficial. It has limited protection from overlying tissues and can be compressed against the adjacent hook of the hamate. An Allen test is often performed to confirm HHS. A positive Allen test may suggest occlusion, stenosis or incomplete development of the superficial palmar arch or distal ulnar artery.
How can I prevent HHS?
Be aware of the causes and symptoms of this syndrome. Prevention should focus on improving work practices and avoid using the palm of the hand as a hammer to pound, push or twist hard objects. While working, use padded gloves to avoid the excessive trauma to the heel of the hand.
How can I treat HHS?
Non-surgical treatment is mostly sufficient to treat HHS. Conservative care includes avoidance of further trauma (may require a change of occupation), padded protective gloves, cold avoidance, and strength and stretching exercises.
How can Function360 Help?
Here at Function360 we endeavour to help you both prevent and recover from any injury. If you’re still puttering about whether you could benefit from our treatments, book a consultation with our physiotherapist… Let’s get you back in the swing of things!