Wrist Sprain

Overview

Definition

A wrist sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the wrist. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones to each other.

Wrist Sprain
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Causes

A wrist sprain is caused by trauma. The most common way this happens is by falling on an outstretched hand.

Risk Factors

Playing sports may raise the risk of a sprain.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Bruising
  • Problems moving the wrist

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how you hurt your wrist. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your wrist.

It can be hard to tell a wrist sprain from a fracture or dislocation of one of the small wrist bones. Pictures of the wrist may be taken. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

Treatments

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the joint involved and how much it is injured. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as rest, ice, a compression bandage, and raising the wrist to ease pain and swelling
  • Over the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen
  • A brace or cast to keep the wrist still as it heals
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the wrist and improve movement

Some people may need surgery to repair a ligament that is torn. This is not common.

Prevention

The risk of a wrist sprain may be lowered by:

  • Using the right safety gear and techniques when playing sports
  • Stretching and strengthening the ligaments that support the wrist

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Sprain, Wrist)

RESOURCES

American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org 

References

Derry S, Moore RA, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.

Overview of Sprains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries/overview-of-sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries. Accessed October 9, 2020.

Sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases—National Institutes of Health website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sprains-and-strains. Accessed October 9, 2020.

Topical NSAIDs. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/topical-nsaids . Accessed October 9, 2020.

Wrist sprains. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00023. Accessed October 9, 2020.