Wrist Sprains

A fall onto an outstretched hand during sports or other recreational activities can result in a wrist sprain. A sprain occurs when the wrist is bent forcefully, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear. Wrist sprains are very common, especially among athletes.

Types and Symptoms of Wrist Sprains

Wrist sprains are graded based on the severity of the injury.

  • A Grade 1 sprain indicates that the ligaments are stretched, but not torn.

  • Grade 2 indicates that the ligaments are partially torn, and there may be some loss of function in the wrist.

  • Grade 3 sprains occur when a ligament in the wrist is completely torn. In some cases, a Grade 3 ligament tear causes a tiny piece of bone to chip away with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.

Symptoms depend on the severity of the sprain, but may include swelling and pain in the wrist, especially when trying to move it. The injury site may be tender, and the skin may be bruised or discolored and feel warm to the touch. Some may feel a popping or tearing sensation inside the wrist. If you suspect a wrist sprain, you should have a doctor evaluate you--more severe sprains do not always have severe symptoms. If a fracture or severe ligament tear goes unrecognized, the wrist can heal improperly and cause more problems down the road, like long-term pain and stiffness or the need for wrist surgery that could have been avoided.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Wrist Sprains

Your doctor will examine your arm and hand, looking for indications of other injuries, such as a broken bone. Imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans may be used to help locate a broken bone or ligament tear.

Mild and moderate wrist sprains can often be treated without surgery. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair the torn ligament.

Nonsurgical Treatment

The RICE protocol is often recommended for wrist sprains. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Patients should rest the wrist for at least 48 hours after the injury and apply an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time. An elastic bandage may be used to compress the sprained wrist to reduce swelling, and the wrist should be elevated above the heart.

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin may be taken for pain. Your doctor may recommend a splint to immobilize the wrist while it heals.

Surgical Treatment

If the ligament is completely torn, surgery may be needed to reattach the ligament to the bone. Ligament repair may be done arthroscopically, using a small camera to see inside the joint, or it may be done as an open procedure. Following surgery, the wrist is usually placed in a splint or cast to immobilize it while it heals. The type of surgery recommended will depend on the individual patient and the severity of the ligament tear.

After surgery, patients are given exercises to help strengthen the wrist and restore range of motion. Although the newly-repaired ligament may heal as soon as 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, complete recovery and full range of motion and strength may take several months.

Wrist Sprain Treatment in Beaumont, TX

Our specialists treat a full range of orthopedic conditions, including wrist sprains. We offer same-day or next day appointments so you can get the diagnosis and treatment you need as soon as possible. If you have any questions about wrist sprain treatment or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact our Beaumont office at (409) 838-0346 or our Port Arthur office at (409) 729-5633, or use our convenient appointment request form.