Sprained Wrist Symptoms & Severity
Lets say you took a fall, but you arent sure if the aftermath caused a sprain.
If you sprained your wrist, you felt pain when you landed not just soreness hours after. Youre also likely to feel some pretty consistent pain when you try to move your wrist around . Tenderness, warmth, bruising, and swelling are all also common wrist sprain symptoms.
If youre certain you do have a sprain, it is important to consider its severity. More severe sprains will require medical treatment, while mild sprains will usually resolve pretty quickly with a little TLC to get rid of lingering mobility issues.
Wrist sprains are usually divided into 3 different grades .
In Grade 1 sprains, the ligament becomes slightly overstretched, but the joint remains stable. Symptoms will probably be mild, the wrist will be tender, and certain movements will cause slight pain .
In Grade 2 sprains, the affected ligaments suffer a partial tear, which might lead to slight instability in the wrist joint. Symptoms like swelling, pain, and difficulties with wrist movements will be more intense.
In Grade 3, or the most severe sprain, the ligament is torn completely and the wrist is left with a lot of instability. The symptoms associated with this type of sprain will be pretty severe expect a lot of pain, swelling and a ton of trouble moving the wrist properly.
If your symptoms are more severe, a Grade 2 or 3 sprain might be at play, and youll want to go visit a doctor.
Keeping Your Hands And Wrists Moving
Moving your hands, wrists and fingers as much as possible can help ease pain and stiffness. This will also maintain range of movement, function and strength.
We have some exercises you can do at home. Try to do them as regularly as you can, especially if your hands and wrists are feeling stiff.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to a physiotherapist, GP or hand therapist for specific advice on exercise.
When Should I Seek Immediate Care
- Your childs pain gets worse or does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
- Your childs cast or splint breaks, gets wet, or is damaged.
- Your child tells you that his or her hand or fingers feel numb or cold.
- Your childs hand or fingers turn white or blue.
- Your child says that his or her splint or cast feels too tight.
- Your childs pain or swelling gets worse after the cast or splint is put on.
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Expert Wrist Pain Diagnosis & Care
Our orthopedic team has specialized expertise in treating wrist pain, including:
- Expert orthopedists: Many of our orthopedic surgeons are fellowship trained in hand surgery. These doctors have pursued additional training after medical school, focusing on the delicate tendons, joints and muscles of the wrist and hand. Coupled with their expertise are the complex treatments theyre able to offer, including minimally invasive surgery, joint fusion and reconstruction to stabilize the wrist.
- Hand therapy: Some of our physical therapists and occupational therapists have earned hand therapy certification after thousands of hours of study and practice in treating the hand, wrist and arm. These hand therapists can help you relieve wrist pain so you can use your hands and wrists comfortably again. Learn more about hand therapy.
- Noninvasive treatment options: Our occupational therapists and hand therapists offer wrist pain treatments, including bracing and physical therapy.
- Wrist and hand care in convenient locations: The Aurora Hand Service Program provides specialized care for conditions affecting your hands and arms, including your wrists. This surgical and nonsurgical care is available to you in locations throughout eastern Wisconsin.
What Does A Sprained Wrist Look Like
A mildly sprained wrist might be slightly swollen.
In more serious sprains, the swelling can be severe. You may have bruising.
Usually, a wrist pain is caused by physical trauma to the wrist. This typically happens when you fall onto an outstretched hand, an injury known as FOOSH.
You can sprain your wrist if it:
- suddenly twists
- moves in an abnormal position
- bends backward
This often happens during sports that commonly involve falls, such as:
- mountain biking
The injury can also be caused by overuse, which might occur in sports like tennis and boxing.
Wrist sprains can happen to anyone, not just athletes. You can sprain your wrist during accidents like slipping on ice or tripping over an object.
After your injury, apply ice to reduce swelling. Wrap an ice pack with a clean towel, then place it on your wrist for 20 minutes. Repeat two or three times a day.
You can also wrap your wrist with a compression bandage to minimize swelling. Heres how:
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Stretches To Help Relieve Wrist Pain
Perhaps it creeps up after a long day of typing at your desk. Or maybe you feel the pain after a round of tennis or planks at the gym.
Regardless when you feel it, many of us battle wrist pain at some point or another.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, carpal tunnel syndrome impacts 4 to 10 million Americans. Pain in your wrists, arms or hands can also be a sign of tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons that connect your muscles to your bones. In addition to issues like carpal tunnel and tendinitis, injuries like fractures and sprains may also require medical attention. So if you frequently feel pain in your wrists or hands, it’s worth making an appointment with your doctor to see if you’re suffering from one of these issues.
But many of us simply experience discomfort or fatigue when we place a lot of stress on our wrists during certain activities. Repetitive motions are a major culprit, whether at work if you do an assembly-line type job or type on a keyboard all day, or through your hobbies if you enjoy activities like skiing, baseball, or even gardening. Keep in mind that repetitive exercise movements, like planks, holding dumbbells or cables improperly, or doing one-handed exercises like a side plank can also cause pain.
How Long Do Fractures Take To Heal How Long Will I Be In A Cast/brace
Healing of a fracture is influenced by the patients age and underlying health . The pattern of the fracture, the force of the injury and the actual bone that is fractured all determine the speed of healing.
In general, most fractures in adults take approximately 6 weeks to heal. Similar fractures in children may take only 4 or 5 weeks to heal. Some slow healing fractures may take 3 months or even longer to heal.
Casts or braces that are used for fracture treatment are usually used for these same time periods a typical wrist or ankle fracture usually requires 6 weeks of immobilisation and a typical fracture of a finger or toe usually requires 4 weeks of immobilisation.
The use of casts and braces have obvious downsides which start to outweigh the benefits around this time period.
It is important to understand that after the immobilisation time has elapsed and the cast/brace is removed, the fracture is often not COMPLETELY healed, but is healed with enough strength that ongoing immobilisation is not required. As such, when the brace/cast is removed, the bone is usually not at 100% strength this strength returns over the following 3-6 months.
During this time, the injured arm or leg can usually be used for daily activities without issue but return to high impact activities is often not advised.
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Wrist Surgery Recovery After Tendon Repair
Doctors sometimes recommend tendon repair for individuals with arthritis or overuse injuries that cause inflammation in the tendons that run along the back of the hand and wrist.;
Similar to carpal tunnel release surgery, tendon repair may be performed either endoscopically or with an open incision to create more space and relieve pressure on the tendons. The tendon usually fully recovers within 12 weeks, and most people can return to their usual activities within 6-8 weeks.5
When Should I Call The Doctor
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
- Inability to move your hand, wrist or fingers.
- Pain that lasts after two weeks of at-home treatments.
- Painful tingling up or down your arm.
- Unusual redness or swelling in your forearm, wrist, hand or fingers.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Many people experience wrist pain at some point. Outside of a sprain or fracture, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and arthritis are major causes of wrist pain. Your healthcare provider can help pinpoint whats causing your wrist pain and recommend appropriate treatments. Often, nonsurgical therapies like wearing a splint, modifying activities and doing hand exercises can ease symptoms. If wrist pain interferes with your ability to work, sleep or do daily activities, you might benefit from surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/03/2017.
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Anatomy Of The Wrist Tendons
Tendons are structures that connect a muscle to bone, and the wrist tendons connect the forearm muscles to the bones of the hand and fingers. The wrist tendons slide through smooth sheaths as they pass by the wrist joint.
These tendon sheaths allow the tendons to glide smoothly as the wrist bends back and forth in a low-friction manner. The tendon sheaths have fluid within the sheath called synovial fluid, and when this area becomes inflamed, the condition is called tenosynovitis.
The tendons surrounding the wrist are divided into two groupsthose of the back of the wrist and those on the front of the wrist .
What Are The Common Causes Of Pain In The Upper Extremities
There are several factors that can lead to painful joints and muscles in the upper extremity.;
A physiotherapist will help you determine the cause and then proceed towards recovery with an individualized treatment plan. Here are some of the most common conditions that result in elbow, wrist, and hand pain.;
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-;
According to studies, CTS impacts nearly 5% percent of Americans. The carpal tunnel is responsible for protecting the median nerve and the tendons that allow the bending of your fingers. When this tunnel is damaged due to trauma or repetitive wear and tear, it triggers pain in the entire arm.;
Arthritis is one of the most commonly found forms of disability that can cause pain and various joints. Hand, elbow, and wrist arthritis is an outcome of repetitive motion or an injury that leads to trauma on these joints.;
Also known as students elbow or tennis elbow, bursitis is another condition that commonly leads to hand pain. Bursa is located at the end of the elbow and protects the elbow bone. When the bursa is compressed due to wear and tear or injury, it causes friction in the elbow bone, leading to pain and swelling.;
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What Can I Do Help Heal My Wrist Pain
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What Is The Treatment For A Distal Radius Fracture
- Fracture displacement
- Associated ulna fracture and injury to the median nerve
- Whether it is the dominant hand
- Your occupation and activity level
In any case, the immediate fracture treatment is the application of a splint for comfort and pain control. If the fracture is displaced, it is reduced before it is placed in a splint. Fracture reduction is performed under local anesthesia, which means only the painful area is numbed.
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A Very Brief Overview Of How The Wrist Works
Heres a little refresher on wrist anatomy to help you understand whats going wrong and how to fix it.
There are ten bones connected to the wrist joint. Youve got the two coming in from your forearm , and then eight coming in from the hand, which are called carpals.
The bones and ligaments are supportive structures of course. But just as in anything, if they are not acclimated to the forces of vigorous, repetitive training, they will lack the resilience to withstand injury. As such, ligament sprain and bone stress fractures are common problems.
Improving the capacity of our wrist bones and ligaments takes consistent, progressive, and patient work. And if you want to reduce your risk of injuries, the patience part is key.
The muscles of our forearms and wrists create the movements of flexion, extension, and radial/ulnar deviation. Hand rotations actually come from the elbow joints. So wrist circle exercises are a combination of elbow and wrist movements.
Our forearm and hand muscles actually have a great potential for strength improvement, as again most of us tend not to use them to their full capability.
Steady incremental strength training for the wrists can lead to significant results.
How To Relieve Wrist Pain
This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society. This article has been viewed 84,020 times.
Wrist pain is a common complaint for many people, although it has quite a few different causes. It’s often caused by ligament sprains from minor trauma, although other reasons include repetitive stress, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, gout and bone fractures.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Because wrist pain has so many factors, accurate diagnosing is important for determining the most effective treatment. Regardless, caring for wrist pain at home is similar no matter the cause.
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What Are Cartilage & Ligament Tears Of The Wrist
The wrist is made up of 8 small bones arranged in two rows of four bones each. The proximal row of carpals articulates directly with the bones in the forearm called the radius and ulna. The distal row connects to the long bones in the palm of the hand. Linked together like a chain, the two rows of carpal bones allow the hand to move up , down and from side to side .
Each carpal forms a joint with the bone next to it. Articular cartilage covers the ends of each bone at each joint. Cartilage is the tough slippery white substance that allows bones to glide past one another without damage. Ligaments are strong cord-like structures that connect bone to bone. The ligaments of the wrist not only attach the carpal bones to one another, but they connect the carpals to the radius and ulna, as well as, to the metacarpal bones.
The cartilage and ligaments that unite the proximal wrist are the most prone to injury. The triquetrum , lunate , and scaphoid are the carpal bones of the proximal row. The ligaments connecting these bones are the luno-triquetral ligament and the scapho-lunate ligament . The triangular fibrocartilage complex is made up of the cartilage and ligaments that suspend the proximal carpals in place against the ulna and radius. The triangular fibrocartilage is the cartilage that articulates primarily between the ulna and triquestrum, and the edges of the radius and lunate bones . The TFCC provides stability to the wrist and is a focal point for force.
Finding The Source Of Wrist Pain
Our doctors may be able to diagnose wrist pain based on an examination and simple in-office tests. In some cases, they may use additional diagnostic tools like:
- Imaging: X-rays can reveal bone fractures, while magnetic resonance imaging scans can show other structural issues inside your wrist. Both can help your doctor pinpoint the source of wrist pain.
- Blood tests: Your doctor may order blood tests to get more information about swelling or ongoing pain. Blood tests can help with the diagnosis of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
- Exploratory arthroscopy: Sometimes, minimally invasive surgery using small incisions can help your doctor diagnose the cause of chronic wrist pain.
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What Kinds Of Wrist Injuries Are Possible
- The wrist is made up of the two bones of the forearm and eight carpal bones . Many ligaments connect these bones to each other.
- A sprain is an injury to the wrist ligaments without any evidence of bone injury . A strain is where there is a tearing of the muscle fibers in the area surrounding the wrist.
- With a sprain, there is usually only a partial tearing of the ligaments.
- In a severe wrist sprain, there can be a complete tear.
How Do I Treat A Broken Wrist
In most cases, it is not a good idea to treat a broken wrist yourself. If you believe that your wrist may have been severely sprained or broken, you should visit your local emergency room immediately. Once there, you will likely have to have an X-ray done to find out if your wrist is actually broken, where the fracture has occurred, and what type of fracture it is. These things will allow doctors to provide you with the proper treatment for your broken wrist.
Many times, the doctor will treat a broken wrist by first putting it in a brace or cast to keep the bone perfectly still as it heals. This is especially important if the break occurred right on the joint, because this area is generally much harder to keep still than just above or below the joint. You should make every effort to rest the area and allow your wrist to heal, even if its tempting to begin moving it again once the pain is gone. Depending on the break, you may have to leave the brace or cast in place for several weeks or longer before removal.
Some severe cases may result in surgery being needed to treat a broken wrist that is badly damaged. This most often occurs due to a traumatic injury, such as those which may occur during a sports game or automobile accident. Patients who are advised to have surgery will likely require a much longer healing time to allow for both the bone and surgical wounds to heal completely. A brace or cast will likely be required right after surgery.
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