Thursday, August 11, 2022

How To Tell If Your Wrist Is Broken Or Sprained

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Diagnosis And Treatment: How Dr Knight Can Help

A physical examination from the doctor, combined with a detailed medical history, may be enough to diagnose the injury; however, an x-ray is deemed the gold standard to identify a fracture. That said, some smaller breaks e.g., a scaphoid fracture may take up to two weeks to appear on an x-ray, complicating diagnosis in the emergency room or urgent care immediately after the injury. In these cases, an MRI or CT scan, which elucidate damage to the soft tissues of the joint, can improve diagnosis.

Treatment for wrist sprains and fractures may be non-surgical or surgical. Immobilization with a splint or cast is common for milder fractures, while various surgical techniques such as the use of pins to fix fractured bone segments together may be needed for complex or severe breaks.

Wrist sprains seldom require surgery, but they can be tricky and often cause much more damage than is apparent. The use of , compression, and splinting can go a long way for milder sprains, but a full tear of a ligament will require surgical repair.

It is important for both injuries to be treated as soon and as comprehensively as possible to avoid any lasting, chronic pain or malformation of the joint. Dr. Knight is one of the premier national wrist specialists with extensive experience in non-surgical and surgical treatment of the wrist. For a deep dive on the treatments offered by Dr. Knight for each injury, see the wrist sprain, wrist fracture, and scaphoid fracture pages.

Treatment And Healing For Wrist Pain Or Strained Wrist

Treatment options for sprains and fractures can be as simple as ice, rest, and immobility using a brace and may take just a few weeks to heal, or as severe as needing surgery to put in plates and screws to realign the fracture, which may take many months to heal. 

It is not often that a sprain requires surgery, but sometimes it is necessary. 

In summary, only a skilled physician can determine the proper diagnosis of a wrist fracture vs a wrist sprain. Both injuries may need further medical attention, and it is important to get these injuries evaluated properly.

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute offers the area’s top Wrist & Hand Specialists.  If you hurt your wrist, we can help. JOI is keeping you safe during COVID-19. To learn more, go to .

If you need to schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Hand and Wrist Specialist, please call , schedule online, or click below. 

Common Symptoms Of Wrist Sprains

Common symptoms of wrist sprains include one or more of the following:

  • Pain. Pain in a sprained wrist may vary from an intermittent dull ache to a sharp constant pain. The pain usually subsides after a few days, however, activities such as gripping or lifting with the hand may be painful until complete healing occurs. Hand twisting activities, such as opening a jar or doorknob may also be painful.
  • Swelling. The wrist may appear swollen. Swelling may occur due to collection of fluid in the joint and tissue spaces of the injured area. The amount of swelling usually depends on the severity of the sprain.
  • Stiffness and reduced flexibility. Stiffness in the wrist joint may be caused due to swelling and/or muscle spasms in response to the ligament injury. Decreased motion, especially while bending the wrist backward and during side-to-side movements may be experienced. Flexibility should improve gradually over time.
  • Joint weakness. Reduced grip and pinch strength with a general feeling of weakness in the sprained wrist may occur in moderate to severe wrist sprains. This symptom may be exacerbated by activities requiring pushing with the hand.

The duration of symptoms usually depends on the type and severity of the wrist sprain. While some sprains usually heal in a few days, others may take weeks or months.

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.
  • A wrist  or broken wrist means there is a break or a crack in one or more of the bones of the wrist.
  • What Is The Physiological Difference Between A Wrist Sprain And A Broken Wrist

    Is My Wrist Broken or Sprained

    The wrist is anatomically complex. A wrist sprain occurs when a ligament in the wrist is injured. Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that stretch from one bone to another. Wrist sprains typically involve stretching or tearing a ligament.

    In contrast, a broken wrist occurs when you actually fracture a bone in the wrist. The wrist consists of 13 different bones, and any of these could be fractured during an injury. This could be as small as a hairline fracture in the bone, but a broken wrist can cause major pain.

    Wrist Sprain Or Broken Wrist: How To Tell The Difference

    Injuring your wrist can be as easy as trying to stop your fall with an outstretched hand. But how bad is your wrist injury? Did you simply sprain the wrist or do you have something more serious, like a wrist fracture?

    A broken wrist is just as common as a sprained one. Both these injuries are caused by similar mechanisms. So, if youve hurt your wrist, heres how to tell if its broken or not.

    Symptoms of a Sprained Wrist vs. a Wrist Fracture

    Unfortunately, the symptoms of a broken wrist and a sprained wrist are relatively similar. These symptoms include:

    • Swelling

    • Tenderness

    • Pain

    Although its easy to assume these symptoms are worse with a fractured wrist, thats not always the case. For example, a broken wrist can cause dull or mild pain while pain from a wrist sprain is often more severe.

    There is one unique symptom of a broken wrist, and that is deformity. If the wrist appears bent or twisted out of shape or out of place, its broken. A wrist fracture is also accompanied by a constant dull ache that is unrelenting whereas pain from a wrist sprain is intermittent with movement.

    Because symptoms of wrist sprains and wrist fractures are so similar, an x-ray can be the only way to tell the extent of the wrist injury. Your orthopedic physician will examine the x-ray to make sure none of the bones in the wrist are broken and suggest a proper choice of treatment.

    Treating an Injured Wrist

  • Stabilize

  • Elevate

  • Ice

  • Contact Team Joseph About Your Wrist Pain

    Is My Thumb Broken Or Sprained

    Breaks & Fractures

    Jun 8, 2020

    Anyone whos lived long enough can attest to the fact that hurting your fingers or toes can be an excruciatingly painful experience. For such small body parts, stubbing them will make you yell out in pain. However, in many instances, waiting it out and icing the area will do the trick. But, what happens if you have a more serious injury? What if youve sprained or broken your thumb? What are the telltale signs of each type of injury, and whats the best form of treatment?

    Grades Of Wrist Sprains

    Sprains are graded, depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments:

    • Grade 1 sprain . The ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
    • Grade 2 sprain . The ligaments are partially torn. This type of injury may involve some loss of function.
    • Grade 3 sprain . The ligament is completely torn or the ligament is pulled off of its attachment to bone. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. If the ligament tears away from the bone, it may take a small chip of bone with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.

    How Long Does It Take For A Broken Wrist To Recover

    Healing time typically depends on the overall health of a person. On average, a broken wrist takes about six weeks to heal properly. Make sure to follow all directions given by your healthcare physician in order to avoid further complications.

    Now that you know how to tell if a wrist is broken or sprained, please make sure to get the appropriate medical care. Stop by Village Emergency Centers in , River Oaks, Clear Creek, or Jersey Village for the quality medical care that you deserve. 

    • locations

    Common Causes Of A Wrist Fracture

    Most people break their radius bone, which is one of the two main bones in the forearm that is connected to 8 smaller bones. Common causes of a wrist fracture or break include the following:

    • Attempting to stop a fall using your outstretched arm and hand
    • Falling off a bike or ladder
    • Car or motorcycle accident
    • Playing sports
    • Osteoporosis

    If your wrist is swollen and painful, it is best to consult with Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic for a diagnosis. If you wait too long and simply ice it and keep it elevated, you could cause even more damage. Its better to have the appropriate tests completed to know what you are dealing with, as treatment will be very different for a broken wrist compared to one that is simply sprained.

    Causes Of Wrist Sprain And Wrist Fracture

    The most common cause of wrist sprain or wrist fracture is falling on an outstretched hand when trying to break a fall after a slip or a trip.

    Both may also be caused by accidents while participating in a sports activity. Generally, a fracture is considered a more severe injury than a sprain.

    The degree of severity of the injury depends on the position of the wrist , if the individual has osteoporosis or is taking medications that make the bones brittle, and the type of activity involved.

    The most common sports that cause wrist sprain are basketball, gymnastics, skating, and skateboarding.

    Wrist fractures are common in individuals who participate in horseback riding, hockey, football, and skiing.

    Treating Sprained And Broken Wrists At Fastmed Urgent Care

    Come to a FastMed Urgent Care clinic for an X-ray if you suffer a wrist injury. Visiting one of our clinics is typically faster and cheaper than a trip to the emergency room. With on-site X-ray technology, our medical professionals will diagnose your wrist pain and determine the appropriate treatment.

    Whether you have a sprained wrist or a broken wrist, dont delay in getting the treatment you need. FastMed Urgent Care accepts all major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, so check out our Insurance page to confirm that your plan is accepted.

    Our patients have great things to say about the compassionate care they receive at FastMed Urgent Care. Linda S. said, I rushed in your doors at closing time with my daughter. She had quite a gash that needed medical treatment with multiple stitches. You did an excellent job and her wound and stitches have healed beautifully!

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    Diagnosing A Wrist Injury

    How Do I Know If I Sprained My Wrist Bradenton, Florida ...

    When you injure your wrist, your doctor will ask you to describe how the injury occurred and perform a physical examination. Common physical tests during the examination could include:

    • Inspecting for deformity, bruising, swelling, and lacerations
    • Palpating the critical structures to assess the location of the injury
    • Testing your joints to assess their stability

    Based on the exam, your doctor may then order an x-ray. An x-ray is needed to decipher between a sprain and a fracture in most situations. If the x-ray appears normal but your symptoms are severe and persistent, your doctor may order additional tests such as a CT scan or an MRI. Rarely would a bone scan would be needed.

    Its important to note that fractures of the scaphoid can masquerade as a sprain. This is because sometimes scaphoid fractures arent as painful as distal radius fractures . Your practitioner should check the scaphoid for tenderness and if theres any suspicion, then special x-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or early follow up and recheck are necessary.

    How Can I Prevent A Wrist Sprain

    Wrist sprains are hard to prevent, since they’re usually caused by accidents. Even the best-trained athlete can slip. But always make an effort to safely.

    Some athletes benefit from using wrist guards or tape. These may prevent the wrist from bending backward during a fall.

    Ross Brakeville, DPT


    Wrist Sprain Vs Broken Wrist

    We use our hands for so much throughout the day that wrist pain can be very debilitating. The most common cause of wrist injuries is falling onto an outstretched hand. This may cause the wrist ligaments or bones to become damaged. Some wrist injuries are classified as wrist sprains while others are considered a broken wrist. Understanding the difference will help you get the correct treatment from your Jacksonville orthopedic specialist. Contact our hand and wrist specialists to take advantage of their specialized knowledge and training in this area.

    Are You High Risk

    You might find yourself being a high risk for a fractured or sprained wrist if youre active in sports, specifically ones like skateboarding or snowboarding. Another high-risk factor is if youve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, a bone disease that is characterized by low bone density.

    53 million people in the United States either are already diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at high risk because of their low bone density. Otherwise known as the silent disease, many people do not know they have this disease until a slip or fall happens and they end up with an injury.

    Even if you dont find yourself playing sports often, any type of activity that is high in contact increases your chances of experiencing a wrist fracture. Even something as small as jumping on a trampoline can make you more high risk.

    What’s The Treatment For A Wrist Sprain

    While they can bench you for a while, the good news is that minor-to-moderate wrist sprains should heal on their own. They just need a little time. To speed the healing, you can:

    • Rest your wrist for at least 48 hours.
    • Ice your wrist to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain is gone.
    • Compress the wrist with a bandage.
    • Elevate your wrist above your , on a pillow or the back of a chair. as often as you can.
    • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , like , , or , will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
    • Use a cast or splint to keep your wrist immobile. This should only be for a short time, until you see the doctor. Then follow the doctors advice about whether or not to continue using a splint. Using a splint for too long can result in more stiffness and muscle weakness in some cases.
    • Practice and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them. It is best if you see a physical or occupational therapist to guide a program specific to your condition. 

    More severe Grade III wrist sprains, in which the ligament is snapped, may require surgery to repair.


    Wrist Sprain Or Break How To Tell And What To Do

    Dr. John Knight

    Weve all been there: A trip, slip, or missed step sends us tumbling to the ground, bracing ourselves with our hands and bent wrists. This sort of fall often causes wrist pain but is it a or a ?

    An incorrect diagnosis could extend recovery time significantly or lead to surgery that could have been avoided with proper treatment. In the long-term, an improperly treated wrist injury could cause chronic pain, stiffness, and , making correct diagnosis and comprehensive care all the more important.


    What Happens If A Wrist Fracture Is Left Untreated

    A scaphoid fracture can lead to wrist osteoarthritis, especially if the fracture is untreated and does not heal correctly. This is called nonunion. Severe cases of this kind of osteoarthritis can lead to an incorrect alignment of wrist bones in what is called scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse .

    READ: Is Synchronically a word?

    Signs Of A Broken Wrist

    While you will have pain in your wrist regardless of if its broken or sprained, you will have significantly more pain if you break your wrist. 

    Some of the signs of a broken wrist include: 

    • Swelling
    • Tenderness to touch

    You might also experience tingling in your fingers. 

    Another sign to consider is if you are completely unable to move your wrist either because you have so much pain or because of the swelling. 

    Signs Of A Fracture Vs A Sprain

    Sprained Wrist: Types, Symptoms And Treatment

    People may assume the level of pain an injury causes is directly related to the extent of an injury. Therefore, a sprain would cause less pain than a fracture. This is not necessarily the case. Fractures can cause mild or dull pain, and sprains can often cause severe pain.

    There are a few telltale symptoms to detect a wrist fracture: deformity of the wrist or bone matter breaking through the skin are obvious signs of fracture. When these occur, individuals need to seek medical care right away.

    However, other wrist injury symptoms are common for both fractures and sprains. These can include:

    • Swelling in the wrist
    • Bruising over the wrist or surrounding area
    • Pain when moving the wrist or hand
    • Weakness or inability to grasp or pick up objects

    Part 1 Of 2:diagnosing A Wrist Sprain

  • 1Move your wrist and assess it. Wrist sprains have a wide range of severity depending on the degree of stretch or tearing to the ligament. A mild wrist sprain , infers some ligament stretching, but no significant tearing; a moderate sprain infers significant tearing and may be associated with some loss of function; a severe sprain infers a greater degree of tearing or complete rupture of ligaments.XResearch source As such, movement in your wrist will be relatively normal with Grade 1 and 2 sprains. A Grade 3 sprain often leads to instability with movement because the ligaments attaching the wrist bones are completely torn.
  • In general, only some Grade 2 and all Grade 3 wrist sprains need medical attention. All Grade 1 and most Grade 2 sprains can be managed at home.
  • A Grade 3 wrist sprain can involve an avulsion fracture the ligament tears away from the bone and takes a small chip of bone with it.XResearch source
  • The most common ligament sprained in the wrist is the scapho-lunate ligament, which connects the scaphoid bone to the lunate bone.XResearch source
  • Grade 3 sprains that involve an avulsion fracture are very painful immediately, and involve both sharp and throbbing type pain.
  • Sprains generate the most pain with movement and are usually much less symptomatic with lack of movement .
  • In general, if your wrist is very painful and difficult to move, see your doctor right away and get it assessed.
  • Wrist Sprain Vs Broken Wrist: Signs To Tell Which Happened

    There are eight small bones in your wrist. Any of them can break and cause severe damage to your wrist. 

    Depending on the break, your wrist could take anywhere from weeks to months to heal. 

    Maybe you broke one of these eight wrist bones, but youre unsure if its a break or a sprain. How do you tell the difference? 

    Heres a guide on the difference between a wrist sprain and a wrist break that can give you insight on if you should see a doctor and the treatment options available to you. 

    Treatment For Wrist Fracture

    Treatment for a wrist fracture may include a splint, cast, or surgery, depending on the severity and location of the break. A padded splint can be used to give support and alignment to provide much-needed pain relief after an initial fracture. Then, a cast is used to hold fractures that have been set and arent unstable.

    If the broken wrist is not in the correct position to heal, your doctor may need to reset it with surgery. Using pins, rods, screws, or plates, your fracture is set for proper healing. If the bone is crushed or severely damaged, a bone graft may be used.

    Once youve had your wrist set with a splint, cast, or surgery, rehabilitation therapy is usually part of the recovery process. This includes hand therapy to recover motion, function, and strength while also preventing your hands from getting stiff. Following through on the recommended therapies reduces your risk of developing of the wrist joint.4

    Part 2 Of 2:diagnosing A Wrist Fracture

  • 1Look for misalignment or crookedness. A wrist fracture can be caused by similar types of accidents and trauma that cause wrist sprains. In general, the larger and stronger bones are, the less likely they are to break in response to trauma instead, the ligaments will stretch and tear. But when they do, they often create a misaligned or crooked appearance.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the worlds leading hospitalsGo to source The eight carpal bones of the wrist are small, so a misaligned or crooked wrist may be difficult to notice, especially with hairline fractures, but more serious breaks are easier to tell.
  • The most commonly broken long bone within the wrist area is the radius, which is a forearm bone that attaches to the small carpal bones.XResearch source
  • The most commonly fractured carpal bone is the scaphoid bone, which is unlikely to cause a noticeable wrist deformity.XResearch source
  • When a bone penetrates the skin and becomes visible, this is known as an open or compound fracture.
  • Pain from a wrist fracture is often preceded by a cracking sound or feeling. In contrast, only Grade 3 sprains can produce a sound or similar sensations, and thats sometimes a popping sound as the ligament ruptures.
  • As a general guideline, wrist pain from a fracture will get worse at night, whereas pain from a wrist sprain will plateau and not flare-up in the night if the wrist is immobilized.
  • Symptoms Of A Broken Thumb

    A fractured thumb can range from a hairline break to bone piercing the skin. If the environment around you was quiet enough when the injury occurred, its possible to actually hear the bone-cracking as it breaks. Some of the most common causes of a broken thumb include falling and landing on your thumb, playing sports, a car accident, or excessive twisting. Its also possible to fracture your thumb if you have a history of bone disease. Symptoms of this type of injury include:

    • Intense pain

    When To Seek Medical Care

    If you have severe pain, deformity, numbness, or are unable to move your wrist, you should call your doctor for an immediate appointment, go to an urgent care clinic, or go to a hospital’s emergency department.

    If there is no deformity and the pain is manageable with over-the-counter pain medication, you may want to wait 12-24 hours before deciding whether to call the doctor. If symptoms persist after a day, see a doctor.

    If you have obvious deformity, numbness, or severe pain, you need medical attention.

    • If there is obvious deformity or severe swelling, there may be a broken bone that needs to be moved back into its normal position.
    • There also can be a dislocation where the bones are no longer in the correct position, although they are not broken.

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    Treatment For Wrist Sprain

    For mild sprains, the RICE protocol is very effective at relieving symptoms:

    • Rest Do not use your wrist for 48 hours. You may need a splint to help.
    • Ice Ice your wrist immediately after injury then for 20 minutes, 2-3 times per day. Never apply ice directly to your skin remember to wrap the ice in a clean cloth before using.
    • Compression Use a compression wrap or bandage to reduce swelling.
    • Elevation Elevate your arm as often as you can, keeping it above your heart level.

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