OBJECTIVE: Hamate hook fractures are rare injuries, comprising 2% to 4% of all carpal fractures. Climbing athletes seem to be affected more frequently than others, as they strain the passive and active anatomical structures of their hands and fingers to maximum capacity during training or competing. This stress is transmitted to the hook of the hamate by tightened flexor tendons, which creates high contact pressure to the ulnar margin of the carpal tunnel. Injuries of the hamate hook, caused by contact pressure of the anatomical structures, are rare and occur nearly exclusively during climbing.
METHODS: We diagnosed 12 athletes with hamate hook fractures who presented with diffuse pain in the wrist joint, which occurred either during or after climbing. Radiographs or computed tomography revealed fractures in the hamate bones in most of the patients; therapy consisted of consequent stress reduction.
RESULTS: Follow-up investigations found that all athletes were free of symptoms after 10.7 ± 5.1 (6-24) (mean ± standard deviation with range) weeks. Resection of the hamate hook was necessary in 3 patients. All patients regained their preinjury climbing level.
CONCLUSION: Climbers with an unspecific, diffuse pain in the wrist need to be examined by radiograph and, if radiograph is unclear, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to detect or exclude the diagnosis of hamate fracture in order to avoid severe complications.