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Wrist Sprain

Breaking a fall with outstretched hands often results in a wrist fracture. It may also result in a sprain of the ligaments of the wrist. A wrist sprain is the stretching or tearing of one of ligaments that connect the bones of the wrist.

Wrist Sprain Symptoms

While this injury is more common in patients that play sports, especially contact or extreme sports, this can just as easily occur from a hard blow to the wrist. If you’re wondering if you've sprained your wrist, here are a few of the common symptoms:

• Bruising or swelling at the wrist
• Abnormal warmth around the wrist
• Pain or tenderness in the wrist
• Tearing or popping in the wrist at the time of the injury

In diagnosing a sprained wrist, initially your doctor will start with a physical examination of the injured area, followed by X-rays, MRI, and possibly even arthrogram or arthroscopy. An arthrogram consists of using an injected dyed coupled with an MRI or X-ray to get a more complete view of the affected area, an arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery where a camera in inserted in your wrist to get a more clear picture of the injury.

The degree of the wrist injury to the tissues is graded.

• Grade I: a mild sprain, the ligaments are stretched but not torn
• Grade II: a moderate sprain with some ligament tearing generally involving some loss of function
• Grade III: a severe sprain with a complete ligament tear. These significant injuries require medical or surgical care to ensure recovery. As the ligament tears away from the bone, it may also take a small chip of bone with it, resulting in an avulsion fracture.

Wrist Sprain Treatment

Treatment of simple wrist sprains usually involves the RICE protocol.
• Rest
• Ice-to alleviate pain and swelling
• Compression-wrist brace or splint to compress and immobilize the wrist
• Elevation-above the heart

Only use the wrist support until the doctor has had a chance to fully examine your injuries and follow your physician’s advice. Using a wrist splint for too long can cause more harm than good, and always consult a doctor regarding any aspect of your treatment.