How to care for a sprained wrist

A sprained wrist involves injury to any of the ligaments connecting bone to bone within the wrist. This is a common injury that typically occurs after a fall onto an extended hand. Other accidents can cause the injury but usually involves bending of the wrist either backward or forward.

A sprained wrist tends to vary in severity. For a mild or grade 1 sprain, the ligament is usually stretched. As for moderate or grade 2 injuries, it involves a partial tear of ligament while severe or grade 3 injuries involves complete rupture of one or several ligaments. Once a doctor is consulted, the wrist is assessed to check for any bruising, swelling, tenderness, bruising, deformity or pain during movement. An X-ray or MRI might be requested to exclude a wrist fracture and observe the extent of the injury.

Indications of a sprained wrist

The indications of a sprained wrist tend to vary based on the extent of the injury and location of the injury.

  • Abrupt wrist pain at the time of injury
  • In severe cases, there is tearing or popping sensation.
    How to care for a sprained wrist

    Abrupt wrist pain at the time of injury.

  • Pain is triggered when moving the wrist
  • Tender spot can be felt on the site where the ligament is damaged
  • Minimal swelling is evident
  • Bruising might be present in severe cases

Management

When it comes to a sprained wrist, it is initially treated at home with the PRICE method (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). Initially, you should protect the affected wrist from further damage by using a splint or support to limit movement. Remember that rest is vital. Avoid using the wrist since this will only cause further damage.

Apply an ice pack right away to minimize the swelling, pain and inflammation. The application must be repeated every 2 hours. Make sure that the pack is secured in placed.

A compression bandage or support can also reduce the swelling. The earlier the bandage is applied, the better. It is recommended to use a cohesive bandage or tape since it is easier to apply. Do not leave the bandage for more than 10 minutes at a time since it can disrupt the blood flow.

Elevating the affected wrist above the level of the heart can also minimize the swelling and promote drainage of excess fluid.

As for severe injuries, a period of immobilization under a splint is necessary for 1-2 weeks to allow the ligament to recuperate. After this phase, the wrist might feel stiff which is why a stretching and mobility routine is vital. Strengthening exercises are vital to restore the strength of the muscles surrounding the wrist.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on sprained wrist is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage sprains, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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