Wrist sprain are extremely common and an injury that our chiropractors and physiotherapists at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) see often. By definition a wrist sprain implies that there has been an injury to the stabilising ligaments of the wrist.
Wrist sprains are common injuries that are often the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand. While other accidents and impacts can cause a sprained wrist, it is often the result of bending the wrist too far forward, backward or to the side. Given that they typically occur after a fall, wrist sprain will usually start hurting soon (immediately) after the injury. Wrist pain that comes on gradually over a longer period of time can be from injuries such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sprains to the wrist vary in pain and severity from grades 1, 2 and 3 which involves:
- Grade 1: Ligaments are over stretched
- Grade 2: Partial tears of a ligament
- Grade 3: A full rupture of one or more ligaments that may include an avulsion fracture, which is when a fragment of bone is pulled off with the ligament.
If a wrist sprain is not assessed and treated properly it can cause recurring or chronic wrist pain.
Symptoms of wrist sprains vary depending on the extent of the injury. Symptoms include sudden pain, tearing, popping and tenderness throughout the wrist. Swelling and bruising may also be visible in more serious injuries.
Treatment of wrist sprains include:
- Applying the P.R.I.C.E (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) principle to protect from any further damage.
- Depending on the extent of the sprain, immobilisation in a splint for a period of time may be required to allow the ligament to heal.
- Applying a cold pack to help ease the pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Wrist mobility exercises to restore the normal movement to the wrist.
- Wrist strengthening exercises to improve the muscular strength of the wrist.
- Many other types of treatments for specific individual needs.
- Surgery may be required for more serious injuries.