Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons

Wrist Sprains

Wrist sprains are very common injuries, especially for athletes no matter the type of sport. It’s a quick injury where the ligaments are stretched to their limits and result in tearing. While predominately treated with self-care techniques, medical evaluations and intervention may be necessary to not only determine if it’s a sprain or not but also the severity of the injury.

What is a Wrist Sprain?

A sprained wrist happens when the ligaments that support the wrist are stretched being their limits, tear, or are bent and twisted forcefully. The wrist ligaments are very strong and made of fibrous tissues that connect the bones in the wrist to other bones. These wrist ligaments help to keep the bones in their proper position and to stabilize the joint.

A woman outdoors holding her left wrist, which is highlighted.

Grades and Symptoms of Wrist Sprains

While not all foot and ankle conditions demand surgery, there are several where, if severe enough, surgery is recommended or if other treatments, such as physical therapy, haven’t been successful:

  • Grade One, Mild: the ligaments in the wrist are stretched, but not torn.
  • Grade Two, Moderate: the wrist ligaments are partially torn and as a result, the wrist may lose some function.
  • Grade Three, Severe: the ligament is completely torn or pulled off of its attachment to bone. If the ligament has torn away from the bone, a small chip of bone may have come with it, which is called an avulsion fracture.

The symptoms of a sprained wrist, no matter the grade, include:

  • A warm feeling around the wrist
    a feeling popping or tearing inside the wrist
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
A doctor examining a wrist sprain.

Identifying a Sprain in the Wrist

It’s important to have a doctor evaluate wrist injuries as even if the symptoms seem mild, there could still be a torn ligament that requires surgery or a splint to ensure proper recovery. Also, a fracture can have similar symptoms to grades one and two of a wrist sprain. If not properly treated, the fracture can heal incorrectly and lead to loss of range of motion and other wrist and hand problems.

To determine if the wrist is sprained, your doctor will examine your wrist to see where it hurts and how it moves. They’ll also examine your entire hand and arm to check for other injuries and ask questions about how the injury happened. The doctor may also order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI to determine the extent of the injury or if there are any other issues undetected.

Medical Treatment

The care and treatment for wrist sprains depend on the grade or severity of the injury. For homecare, the recommended action is RICE:

  • Rest the wrist for at least 48 hours.
  • Ice the wrist immediately after the injury and use cold packs for 20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression is applied to the wrist with an elastic compression bandage.
  • Elevation of the wrist as often as possible and keep it higher than your heart.

For more severe wrist ligament injuries or fractures, surgery may be needed. The operation involves reconnecting the ligament to the bone or using a tendon graft to reconstruct it.

A man in a gym holding his wrist.

Make an Appointment with our Wrist Specialists

If you’ve suffered any of the symptoms listed above, we encourage you to make an appointment with our wrist specialists!

We at Proliance Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons strive to help our patients achieve a return to normal activity through compassionate and exceptional care using evidence-based medicine in a patient-friendly environment. We are committed to bringing you a high standard of care that is patient-focused, with the goal of improving your quality of life.