A wrist sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the wrist. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
The most common causes for wrist sprains are falling on an outstretched hand and repetitive motion.
Factors that may increase your chance of getting a wrist sprain include:
A wrist sprain may cause:
It can be hard to tell the difference between a wrist sprain and a fracture or dislocation of one of the small wrist bones. See your doctor if there is any deformity, swelling, or if you are unable to move your wrist or hand.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you injured your wrist. An exam of your wrist will be done to check the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Imaging tests may include:
Wrist sprains are graded according to their severity:
Your wrist will need time to heal. Avoid activities that cause pain or put extra stress on your wrist.
Apply an ice or a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes several times a day after the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.
Your doctor may recommend:
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Compression can help prevent more swelling. Your doctor may recommend an elastic compression bandage around your wrist. Be careful not to wrap the bandage too tight.
Support may be needed to help protect, support, and keep your wrist in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include:
Wrist sprains may not always be preventable. There are steps you can take to reduce your chance of getting a wrist sprain. These include:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American College of Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sprains_Strains/default.asp. Updated July 2012. Accessed September 10, 2013.
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.