Do magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities of the non-dominant wrist correlate with ulnar-sided wrist pain in elite tennis players?

Sidney M. Levy, Machar Reid, Anne Marie Montgomery, Elissa Botterill, Stephanie A. Kovalchik, Melanie Omizzolo, Frank Malara, Timothy O. Wood, Gregory A. Hoy, Andrew H. Rotstein

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Ulnar-sided injuries of the non-dominant wrist are common in elite tennis players that use the double-handed backhand technique. This study aimed to define the relationship between ulnar-sided wrist pain in symptomatic and asymptomatic elite tennis players, and the presence of abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Materials and methods: Fourteen symptomatic tennis players, 14 asymptomatic tennis players, and 12 healthy controls who did not play tennis, were analyzed prospectively, after undergoing MRI of their non-dominant wrist. Five anatomical regions were analyzed, thought to relate to ulnar-sided wrist pain. These consisted of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC), ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), extensor carpi ulnaris tendon (ECU), osseous-articular structures, and ganglia. Images were independently reviewed by two blinded musculoskeletal radiologists. Results: Non-dominant, ulnar-sided, wrist pain in elite tennis players was not statistically significantly associated with an increased number of MRI abnormalities when compared with asymptomatic tennis players (p > 0.05). However, some evidence of statistical association was seen with an increased prevalence of ECU tendon abnormalities (OR = 8.0, 95% CI = (0.74, 20.00), p = 0.07). A statistically significant increase in MRI abnormalities of osseous structures (OR = 15.1, 95% CI = (1.56, 656.05), p = 0.02) and the dorsal radioulnar ligament (DRUL) (OR = 12.5, 95% CI = (2.15, 111.11), p = 0.03), was observed in symptomatic players compared with controls. Conclusions: Non-dominant, ulnar-sided, wrist pain in a subgroup of elite tennis players using a double-handed backhand technique is not associated with a statistically significant increased prevalence of MRI abnormalities when compared with asymptomatic tennis players, other than some evidence of statistical association with ECU tendon abnormalities. Therefore, significance of MRI abnormalities should be interpreted in the context of clinical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-415
Number of pages9
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • MR imaging abnormalities
  • Non-dominant wrist
  • Tennis players
  • Ulnar-sided wrist pain

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