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Wrist Sprain

A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the wrist. Ligaments are bands of strong, fibrous tissue that connect the bones of the hand. They also provide stability and strength to the wrist. A wrist sprain occurs when the ligaments are torn or stretched too far

Wrist Sprain Hero Image 2

A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the wrist. Ligaments are bands of strong, fibrous tissue that connect the bones of the hand. They also provide stability and strength to the wrist. A wrist sprain occurs when the ligaments are torn or stretched too far. Wrist sprains are common, and often result from a sports injury. Depending on the extent of damage to the ligaments, wrist sprains can range from mild to severe.

What causes Wrist Sprain?

Wrist sprains can occur when an athlete falls onto their outstretched hand, or in any way that stretches their wrist too far.

Wrist sprains are most common in these sports:

• Basketball
• Baseball
• Softball
• Gymnastics
• Football
• Rugby

Symptoms

Wrist sprains usually cause pain and swelling. Athletes may also experience:

• Tenderness to the touch
• Pain with motion
• Bruising
• A popping feeling when moving the wrist

When to see a doctor

A minor wrist sprain may get better with home care. But if pain and swelling persist for more than 24 hours, you may have a more severe injury, like a fracture. In this case, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. At your visit, it is important to provide the details of your injury, the sports you play, and if you have had previous injuries to your wrist. This information will help your doctor make a diagnosis.

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination of your wrist, hand, and forearm, looking for signs of swelling and tenderness. X-rays may be ordered to help evaluate the extent of your injury and see if you have broken any bones.

Non-operative treatment

While common, wrist sprains are also highly treatable with non-surgical measures. Taking a break from sports that caused your injury is important to allow your wrist time to heal. Additional conservative treatments may include:

• Applying ice to reduce swelling and pain
• Keeping your wrist elevated, especially at night, to reduce swelling
• Taking anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen) for pain
• For more severe cases, wearing a wrist splint to immobilize the wrist and allow it to heal
• Stretching and strengthening exercises after the sprain has healed

You can also try these exercises at home:

Wrist Sprain

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is generally not needed for wrist sprains. If you have severely torn ligaments or a fractured wrist, your doctor will advise if surgery should be considered.

Recovery

In general, recovery time for a wrist sprain can range from a matter of days to several weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain. Athletes may consider an alternative physical activity (e.g. swimming or jogging) to avoid re-injuring their wrist and give it ample time to fully heal. Your doctor may suggest specific exercises that can expedite your recovery.

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