A sprained wrist is a painful condition caused by an abrupt bending of the wrist, damaging the ligaments that connect your hand and forearm. There are many types of sprains, and treatment varies for each one.
What You Need To Know About a Sprained Wrist
What is a Sprained Wrist?
A sprained wrist is caused by a sudden contortion that injures the ligaments in the wrist. These ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that attach the hand to the wrist. While you may think of the wrist as having a single joint, it actually has multiple joints that link 15 different bones. A sprained wrist can include an injury to any of these ligaments.
There are many types of wrist sprains, and each requires different treatments. Your physician will be able to create a customized treatment plan for your condition.
What Causes a Sprained Wrist?
When functioning normally, the ligaments of the wrist hold the hand and forearm bones in place. However, if these ligaments suffer a sudden bending or contortion of the wrist, they may stretch or tear, causing a sprain. A wrist sprain is often caused by falling onto a flexed hand or by a sudden twisting or bending of the wrist in an abnormal way.
Sprained Wrist Symptoms
If you have injured your wrist in an abrupt and abnormal movement, you may have a sprained wrist. Signs of a sprained wrist include:
Pain and tenderness
Swelling and bruising
A popping/tearing noise in the wrist
Limited range of motion
Weakness in the wrist
The intensity of the injury will determine how severe the sprain is. Sprains are categorized into three levels; Grade 1 is a mild sprain, Grade 2 is a moderate sprain, and Grade 3 is a severe sprain. Some mild sprains may not need medical attention, but it is always a good idea to get a medical professional to look at your injury. If pain or swelling does not improve over 48 hours, you should schedule an appointment with a Resurgens hand and wrist physician.
How is a Sprained Wrist Diagnosed?
A wrist sprain is diagnosed after an exam from a hand and wrist physician. During the exam, your doctor will see where your pain is and check the range of motion in your wrist. Expect some mild to moderate irritation during this part of the examination.
Diagnostic imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI, may be recommended to determine that there are no other additional injuries such as broken bones, dislocated joints, or full ligament tears. Your doctor will then suggest a treatment plan for your specific condition.
Sprained Wrist Treatment
Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the sprain. Usually, surgery is not required for a wrist sprain and can be treated with the "RICE" method. It often takes about six weeks to make a full recovery from a sprained wrist. Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor will recommend either non-surgical or surgical treatments.
The "RICE" method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is a commonly used way to treat a sprained wrist. This treatment includes resting your wrist, icing the affected area, wrapping and compressing the injury, and elevating the arm above the heart.
Day-to-day pain can usually be managed with NSAIDS or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Depending on the type of sprain, your Resurgens physician may recommend physical therapy in order to help you regain full strength and control of the wrist.
It's unusual for a sprained wrist to require surgery. However, if the injury does not respond to non-surgical methods like rehabilitation or the "RICE" method, surgery may be required to make sure the sprain heals properly.
Before the surgery, the doctor will talk to you about which surgical method is best for your condition. During surgery, the ligaments are either reconnected to the bone, or a tendon graft is applied to reconstruct a seriously damaged ligament. After surgery, rehabilitation will be necessary to regain strength and range of motion in the wrist. The wrist will usually heal in 8 to 12 weeks, but it may take 6 to 12 months for a full recovery.
The treatment plan for a sprained wrist varies from person to person and is determined on a case by case basis. Your Resurgens Physician will create a unique treatment plan for your situation.