A common injury
Wrist injuries are common problems, and they can be quite an annoyance given how dependent we are on functional wrists and hands. When you begin to fall, your natural instinct is to put your hands out to catch or break your fall. In doing so, the wrist is often suddenly, and forcefully, torqued or twisted.
What is a Wrist Sprain?
When this type of injury occurs – and a patient sustains a Wrist Sprain – the ligaments of the wrist are stretched beyond their normal limits.
A ligament is tough, fibrous tissue that controls the motion around a joint. The ligaments around the wrist joint help to stabilize the position of the hand and allow controlled motions.
What are the symptoms of a Wrist Sprain? Some common symptoms of a wrist sprain include:
- Pain with movement of the wrist
- Swelling around the wrist joint
- Bruising or discoloration of the skin
- Burning or tingling sensations around the wrist
Sprains vary by degree/grade
Wrist sprains are graded according to the severity of the injury:
- Grade I: Mild injury, the ligaments are stretched, but no significant tearing has occurred.
- Grade II: Moderate injury, the ligaments may be partially torn.
- Grade III: Severe wrist sprain, the ligaments are completely torn, and there may be instability of the joint.
Who gets Wrist Sprains?
Wrist sprains are common injuries, especially in certain groups of people. Wrist sprains tend to occur after falls. In icy weather, wrist sprains are common as people fall to the sidewalk after slipping. Sporting activities are also common causes of wrist sprains. Sports in which wrist sprains commonly occur include football, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, rollerblading, and many other sports.
How is the diagnosis of a wrist sprain made?
The diagnosis of a wrist sprain is made by knowing how the injury occurred, and looking at the physical examination findings.
Your doctor will obtain an x-ray to ensure you have not broken the bones around the joint. In some cases a MRI can be helpful. This may be done if the diagnosis is unclear or if the symptoms do not resolve as expected.
Preventing Wrist Sprains
Some activities are such that participants are at significant risk for sustaining a sprained wrist. Wearing protective splints in sports such as rollerblading, street hockey, and snowboarding can help prevent many sprained wrists. While skiing, use a pole that has a low-profile grip, and do not secure the poles in your wrists with tight straps.