Intersection syndrome: An acute surgical disease in elite rowers

Gregory Hoy, Larissa Trease, Wendy Braybon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Intersection syndrome is a relatively common condition in elite rowers and continuing conjecture over its pathology and best management often includes prolonged withdrawal from training and changes to the technique that may affect rowing outcomes. Methods We reviewed a case series in a national rowing squad and the effect on time loss produced by the condition. We reviewed the pathophysiology. We revisited the aggressive operative management put forward in the 1960s and applied it to modern rowing workload by reviewing a retrospective case series of six international rowers who had early surgical intervention. Results Approximately 5% of the squad suffered intersection syndrome during a 3-year period. The effect on training time was between 20% and 40% of their training time in the period. Using our understanding of the pathology as a true tendinitis of the second wrist compartment caused by fascial compression from hypertrophied first compartment muscles, we advocated earlier surgery and almost immediate return to training, which occurred at a median of 7 days postsurgery. We had successful return in five of six rowers in an accelerated programme to minimise muscle wasting and technique modification caused by the condition, achieving career goals in a matter of weeks after surgical intervention. Conclusions We encourage early surgical management of intersection syndrome of the wrist to allow almost immediate return to training, and therefore interfere less with technique modification and time out of the water. This minimises career disruption in the elite rowing community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000535
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • rowing
  • sports rehabilitation programmes
  • surgery
  • wrist

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