Article by Dr. Darren R Keiser MD
Worried about wrist sprains? A wrist sprain is a common injury. A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that connect one bone to another. There are many ligaments in the wrist that can be stretched or torn, resulting in a sprain. This occurs when the wrist is bent forcefully, such as in a fall onto an outstretched hand.
Wrist sprains can range from mild to severe. They are graded, depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments.
Grade 1. These mild sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
Grade 2. These moderate sprains occur when the ligaments are partially torn. Grade 2 sprains may involve some loss of function.
Grade 3. These severe sprains occur when the ligament is completely torn. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. As the ligament tears away from the bone, it may also take a small chip of bone with it, called an avulsion fracture.
Symptoms of a wrist sprain may vary in intensity and location.
The most common symptoms of a wrist sprain include:
> Swelling in the wrist
> Pain at the time of the injury
> Persistent pain when you move your wrist
> Bruising or discoloration of the skin around the wrist
> Tenderness at the injury site
> A feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist
> A warm or feverish feeling to the skin around the wrist
Sometimes, a wrist injury may seem mild with very little swelling, but it could be that an important ligament has been torn that will require surgery to avoid problems later.
Similarly, an unrecognized (occult) fracture may be mistakenly considered a mild or moderately sprained wrist. If left untreated, the broken bone may not heal and will require a surgery that could have been avoided with early, appropriate treatment. The most common example of this is an occult fracture of the scaphoid bone.
It is important in all but very mild cases for a doctor to evaluate a wrist injury. Proper diagnosis and treatment of wrist injuries is necessary to avoid long-lasting stiffness and pain.
Because wrist sprains usually result from a fall, be careful when walking in wet or slippery conditions. Wrist sprains also occur during sports, such as skating, skateboarding, and skiing. Wrist guard splints or protective tape can be used to support the wrist and prevent it from bending too far backward. When skiing, drop the poles during a fall to prevent wrist sprains.
**Call the office of Dr. Darren Keiser to set up an appointment