Wrist Sprains

Overview

When the ligaments - the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect the bones to one another inside a joint are injured - it's known as a wrist sprain. These ligaments inside the wrist connect the 15 separate bones that make up this part of the body. These ligaments can be torn by an extreme bend, impact or twist that forces the wrist beyond its normal range of motion.

Because wrist sprains can have different levels of severity, it's important to have the sprain examined by a doctor. While many wrist sprains heal on their own, only an examination by one of the sports medicine experts at the Florida Hospital Celebration Health Sports Medicine Program can tell if a sprain actually tore ligaments away from the bone.

 

Wrist Sprain Causes

Wrist sprains are fairly common, especially in sports, where they account for 3% to 9% of all sports injuries. They are especially common in young people who play football, basketball or baseball, but other sports, including boxing, volleyball, wrestling, ice hockey and judo can also cause wrist sprains.

 

Wrist Sprain Symptoms

The symptoms of a sprained wrist vary by its location and intensity as well as the degree of the sprain itself. Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in the wrist
  • Persistent pain when the wrist is moved
  • Bruising or discoloration of the skin
  • Tenderness
  • A feeling that something is popping or tearing inside the wrist
  • A warm feeling to the skin

 

Treatment

Wrist sprains are graded by the degree of injury to the tissues:
Grade 1: Mild Sprain (slight stretching and some damage to the fibers of the ligament)
Grade 2: Moderate Sprain (partial tearing of the ligament)
Grade 3: Severe Sprain (complete tear of the ligament)

A mild wrist sprain can usually be treated using the R.I.C.E. Method:

  • Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the injury.
  • Ice. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Compression. To prevent additional swelling and blood loss, wear an elastic compression bandage.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling, recline when you rest, and put your arm up higher than your heart.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) may also be helpful.  

Moderate sprains may require a wrist splint that will need to be worn 7 to 10 days.

Severe sprains may require surgery. Learn about surgery for wrist sprain.

If you have questions about wrist sprains or want to make an appointment with us, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to help you.