A wrist sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the wrist. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. Repetitive motion can also lead to these types of injuries.
The most common cause of wrist sprain is falling on an outstretched hand.
These factors increase your chance of developing a wrist sprain. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Inadequate flexibility and strength in muscles and ligaments
Not wearing wrist guards during activities such as in-line skating
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to a wrist sprain. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Pain, tenderness, and swelling around the wrist
Redness, warmth, or bruising around the wrist
Limited ability to move the wrist
It can be hard to tell the difference between a wrist sprain and a fracture or dislocation of one of the small wrist bones. See a doctor if there is any obvious deformity, swelling, or inability to move the wrist or hand.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you injured your wrist. The doctor will examine your wrist to check the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Tests may include:
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
This is done to make sure no bones are broken. Sometimes fractures may not become visible on x-ray until several weeks have passed. X-rays can also show bones that move out of place because the ligaments that stabilize them have been torn.
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
—a thin, lighted tube inserted through a small incision to look at structures inside the body
—a test that detects areas of increased or decreased bone turnover
This is sometimes needed to reveal hidden fractures.
Wrist sprains are graded according to their severity:
Stretching and microtearing of ligament tissue
Partial tearing of ligament tissue
Mild instability of the joint
May affect function of the hand and wrist
Severe or complete tearing of ligament tissue
Significant instability of the joint
Can be associated with avulsion fractures
Rest—Do not use your injured wrist and hand.
Ice—Apply ice or a cold pack to the wrist for 15-20 minutes, 4 times a day for several days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
Compression—Wrap your wrist in an
elastic compression bandage
(eg, Ace bandage). This will limit swelling and support your wrist.
Elevation—Keep the injured wrist raised above the level of your heart for 48 hours (such as up on a pillow). This will help drain fluid and reduce swelling.
The following medicines may help reduce inflammation and pain:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a