Wrist Sprain



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.



Problems may be:

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


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. Questions will also be asked about how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the 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



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.


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.