Survey of upper extremity injuries among martial arts participants

Hand Surg. 2013;18(2):151-7. doi: 10.1142/S0218810413500172.


Purpose: To survey participants at various experience levels of different martial arts (MA) about upper extremity injuries sustained during training and fighting.

Materials: A 21-s question survey was designed and utilised. The survey was divided into four groups (Demographics, Injury Description, Injury Mechanism, and Miscellaneous information) to gain knowledge about upper extremity injuries sustained during martial arts participation. Chi-square testing was utilised to assess for significant associations.

Results: Males comprised 81% of respondents. Involvement in multiple forms of MA was the most prevalent (38%). The hand/wrist was the most common area injured (53%), followed by the shoulder/upper arm (27%) and the forearm/elbow (19%). Joint sprains/muscle strains were the most frequent injuries reported overall (47%), followed by abrasions/bruises (26%). Dislocations of the upper extremity were reported by 47% of participants while fractures occurred in 39%. Surgeries were required for 30% of participants. Females were less likely to require surgery and more likely to have shoulder and elbow injuries. Males were more likely to have hand injuries. Participants of Karate and Tae Kwon Do were more likely to have injuries to their hands, while participants of multiple forms were more likely to sustain injuries to their shoulders/upper arms and more likely to develop chronic upper extremity symptoms. With advanced level of training the likelihood of developing chronic upper extremity symptoms increases, and multiple surgeries were required. Hand protection was associated with a lower risk of hand injuries.

Conclusion: Martial arts can be associated with substantial upper extremity injuries that may require surgery and extended time away from participation. Injuries may result in chronic upper extremity symptoms. Hand protection is important for reducing injuries to the hand and wrist.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hand Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oklahoma / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Upper Extremity / injuries*
  • Wrist Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult