General Wrists

How do I treat a sprained wrist?

Spraining your wrist is one of the most common injuries, and it can happen more easily than you might think. You could be playing sports and have a collision, you could slip and fall walking down the stairs, and receive the injury in countless other ways. A sprained wrist occurs when your outstretch palm hits the floor or another surface and bends backwards momentarily. This causes the ligaments in the wrist to stretch further than they were meant to stretch. Small tears can occur, and in some cases, it is possible to snap the ligament entirely.

Most Common Symptoms

When a person sprains their wrist, there is a substantial amount of pain. In addition, the area tends to swell. The site of the injury will be warm to the touch as it swells. The area will also be extremely tender to the touch – even a light touch can send swells of pain through the body. Bruising tends to occur as well.

At the moment of the sprain, it is common for the injured party to feel the tear as it occurs. This can actually be the most frightening part for many people, as they know that something bad happened … they just do not know the extent of the injuries.

The Diagnosis

While you might suspect that you have a sprained wrist, the only way to know for sure is to speak with a doctor. You do not want to believe that you have a sprained wrist when it is actually broken. The doctor will examine you, and they may require that you have an x-ray as well. This will give them a look “inside” to make sure that there are no fractured bones in the wrist. They may require other imaging tests as well, such as an MRI, to get the entire picture.

Types of Sprains

There are several “grades” of sprains – Grade I, II, and III. The mildest of these is Grade I, which is reserved for those sprains that have only minor ligament damage. The Grade II sprains have more damage, as well as more pain. Some patients might feel as though their wrist joint feels loose. They will also lose proper function of the wrist until it heals. A Grade III sprain is the most serious, as it means that ligament is torn and the patient will not have any use of their wrist.

Treatment Options

When you have a sprain, you will want to follow the acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Keep the wrist resting and add ice to the area to keep the swelling down. Use a bandage to compress the area, which will also help with the swelling. Keep your wrist elevated so it is above heart level.

You can also take over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can help to keep the swelling down, and which can provide you with pain relief. Those who suffer from a Grade III sprain may need to have surgery to proper repair.

While most sprains aren’t serious and can heal on their own, you should still get a medical opinion. Contact our hand surgeon’s office in West Bloomfield, Howell, Warren, or Macomb to get in touch with a medical professional. You need to have a proper diagnosis if you are expected to heal.