WRIST SPRAIN/STRAIN

WRIST SPRAIN/STRAIN

The difference between a sprain and a strain is that a sprain injures the bands of tissue that connect two bones together, while a strain involves an injury to a muscle or to the band of tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone.

A wrist sprain (TFCC tear) is a common injury for all sorts of athletes. All it takes is a momentary loss of balance. As you slip, you automatically stick your hand out to break your fall. But once your hand hits the ground, the force of impact bends it back toward your forearm. This can stretch the ligaments that connect the wrist and hand bones a little too far. The result is tiny tears or even worse, a complete break to the ligament.

HAND & WRIST ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

Pain

Swelling

Tenderness and warmth around the injury

Feeling a popping or tearing in the wrist

Bruising

Loss of motion

Weakness

CAUSES

While falls cause of a lot of wrist sprains, you can also get them by:

Being hit in the wrist.

Exerting extreme pressure on the wrist or twisting it


Wrist sprains are common in:

Basketball players

Baseball players

Gymnasts

Divers

Skiers, especially when they fall while still holding a pole

Skaters

Skateboarders

Inline skaters

Wrist sprains also can happen to anyone who takes a fall or gets hit on the wrist.

TREATMENT

TREATMENT OPTIONS

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 heart, on a pillow or the back of a chair. as often as you can.

Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, 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 doctor’s 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 stretching 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.

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