Sean Edey is a gifted golf player from the island of Barbados. He is so promising that at 19 years of age he’s already an accomplished member of the golf team at Bethune-Cookman University of Florida, where he attends on an athletic scholarship. So when he started having pain in his left wrist in the summer of 2007, Mr. Edey was concerned about the discomfort and its effect on his golf game.
“I tried giving it a rest,” he says. “I looked for help, was given injections, but by December it was still hurting.”
That’s when he went to see Alejandro Badía, M.D., hand and upper extremities surgeon and chief of hand surgery at Baptist Hospital of Miami.
“He had a ligament tear in between two small and very important wrist bones, a condition which is very difficult to diagnose, even with a magnetic resonance imaging (IMR) test. I only can diagnose it clinically, that is, with a physical exam and then confirm it with an arthroscopic exploration,” says Dr. Badia. “Mr. Edey’s wrist ligament was indeed torn and frayed. It was not terrible but it was enough to cause bone instability, which means that the position between those bones was dislocated producing an abnormal movement. This is painful for someone when they put weight on the hand, do strenuous movements with it and, of course, play golf.”
Fortunately, through the same arthroscopic exploration procedure, Dr. Badia fixed problem that is known as a scapholunate ligament tear.
“I debreded the area, removed the defrayed edges to encourage new blood supply and pinned the two bones together,” explains Dr. Badia. “What is great with arthroscopy is that it’s a minimally invasive procedure, done under local anesthesia, as an outpatient. It leaves no scars. I reach the inside of the wrist through two small holes through which I slide a tiny camera and the cutting and cleaning instruments.” After surgery the patient wears a cast to immobilize the area for eight weeks, which allows for new ligaments to form. Once the cast is removed, the patient begins physical therapy and rehabilitation.
“I see these types of lesions frequently because much of my practice is related to complex wrist problems,” says Dr. Badia. “It is often difficult to diagnose. When patients complain of wrist pain, they’re sent for X-rays and, unless something is obvious, they receive a splint or physical therapy. But these things do not work if it’s a ligament tear.”
Four months after the surgery Mr. Edey rejoined his golf team.
“I took part in the Barbados Open at the end of last June, in the Caribbean Championship last August and in three college-level tournaments,’ says Edey. “My wrist healed so well that I’m going to be playing year round!”
“It’s obvious”, concludes Dr. Badia, “that if you have wrist pain for more than three months you should go to a hand and wrist specialist for an evaluation. Yet, the most common is going to four or five different doctors before coming to the hand specialist. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and even cheaper to start off going to him directly?”