Wrist Sprain

SUMMARY

Causes:

  • High force or weight through the wrist
  • Falling on an outstretched arm onto a hard surface
  • Common in skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing
  • Overuse injury

Symptoms:

  • Pain in the wrist at the point of injury
  • Stiffness aching in the wrist
  • Swelling and aching in the area
  • Reduced grip and strength in the wrist
  • Pain in activities which involve using the wrist such as gripping

Treatment:

  • RICE method
  • Wrist braces and taping
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises

What is a Sprained Wrist?

A wrist sprain occurs when the connective tissue in the wrist between the outer arm bone (radius) and the thumb becomes damage. The most common cause of a wrist sprain is overuse injury or as a result of a high force or pressure put on the wrist which it is unable to withstand for example falling onto an outstretched arm. This is often seen in sports such as skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing due to the amount of falling onto hard surfaces that can occur.

Sprained Wrist Symptoms

A patient who has sustained a wrist sprain will usually feel pain and swelling in the wrist which may increase when moving the thumb or wrist or when attempting to grip. When the initial pain has subsided, the patient is likely to feel a stiffness and aching in the wrist which becomes more apparent after periods of rest and first thing in the morning and the patient may feel unable to perform movements which require the wrist such as picking up objects and gripping due to reduced strength in the area.

Sprained Wrist Diagnosis

In order to diagnose wrist sprain, a doctor or physiotherapist will give an examination of the area and often an X-ray or MRI scan will be undergone in order to confirm the diagnosis and also to rule out any further complications.

Sprained Wrist Treatment

In order to treat wrist sprain, rest is crucial to allow the injury time to heal and to prevent any further activity which could cause damage or cause discomfort to the injury. Wrist straps may be recommended to keep the wrist stable and the ease any pressure put on the area which aggravates the wrist.

Applying ice to the injury is an important aspect of healing as it will reduce any swelling and inflammation as well as providing cooling pain relief to the injury. Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is beneficial for the first 72 hours of the injury occurring as it will reduce swelling, restrict blood flow and prevent further inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieving pain or achiness from the injury.

When the injury has begun healing and you are advised by a physiotherapist or doctor, it is important for the patient to undergo a rehabilitation program such as strengthening and stretching exercises which will keep the area strong and make it easier to return to sports once the injury has fully recovered. These exercises should not be carried out if the patient feels pain in the area and the advice of a physiotherapist should always be sought in order to obtain an exercise regime suitable for the individual.

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