Most wrist injuries occur as a result of overuse, not due to trauma to the joint. This correlates to the fact that wrist injuries are one of the most common types of work-related injuries, second only to injuries to the back. Though wrist sprains are a common work injury, they can also be sports-related.
If you’ve sustained a sprained wrist, it can be very painful. Symptoms of a fractured wrist are similar to those of a sprained wrist, though the treatments are different – so professional diagnosis is important so that the injury doesn’t cause permanent damage.
A sprain is when there is a stretch or a tear in a ligament, which is a strong and thick band of tissue that connects two bones together. Treatment depends on whether the sprain is a stretched ligament, a partially torn ligament, or a fully torn ligament.
Types of Wrist Sprains
Wrist sprains can range from mild to severe, depending on how much damage is sustained:
- Grade 1 (mild) sprain is when a ligament is stretched, but not torn.
- Grade 2 (moderate) sprain negatively affects function, as the ligament is partially torn.
- Grade 3 (severe) sprain is when the ligament is completely torn.
What Can I Do for a Sprained Wrist?
After your orthopedic specialist has diagnosed your condition as a sprained wrist, the doctor will devise a treatment plan. If the orthopedist diagnoses the sprain as mild or moderate, you will likely be told to take over-the-counter pain medications, or the physician will give you a prescription.
Your orthopedic doctor may also prescribe the RICE method, which is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:
- Rest means to allow it to rest and heal, and do not overexert it with activity. Use your other hand to accomplish tasks instead.
- Ice the wrist immediately after the sprain occurs, and repeat the process several times a day for about 20 minutes at a time. Be sure to wrap the ice pack with a towel and do not place the pack directly on the skin, because otherwise you could get frostbite.
- Compression involves using a compression sleeve or compression bandages to assist in relieving or preventing any swelling.
- Elevation means keeping the wrist elevated above your heart to help reduce swelling, as this utilizes gravity to bring fluid away from the affected area. If the wrist can’t be raised above the heart, then keep it at the same level as your heart or as close as possible.
Do not use heat to relieve symptoms of a sprained wrist. Heat will increase blood flow to the area and will thereby cause or increase swelling.
The symptoms associated with a mild wrist sprain will begin to lessen within three days; a moderate sprain will take longer. If the pain or swelling in your wrist persists past three days, it is very important to see an orthopedist for diagnosis and treatment.
A severe sprain will likely require surgery to repair the fully torn ligament. This will involve either reattaching the ligament to the bone, stitching the ends of the ligament back together, or using part of an adjacent ligament to replace the damaged ligament.
Orthopedic Physicians in North Dakota
Our joint specialists at The Bone & Joint Center will provide the necessary medical treatment to properly and fully address your sprained wrist. A board-certified orthopedist will determine the severity of your condition and devise the correct treatment plan.
Call our friendly staff today at (800) 424-2663 to make an appointment, or schedule an appointment online now. We look forward to seeing you and helping you get back in the game!