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Wrist Sprain Treatment

Wrist sprain treatment involves restricting movements of the wrist and elevating its position whenever possible, to speed up recovery.
Did you Know?
Ignoring treatment for ligament injuries such as wrist sprain can trigger progressive damage to the joint, eventually causing arthritis.

A sprain is a common sports injury that damages the ligaments of the affected part of the body. The ligaments are tough elastic tissues that do the job of binding together the ends of two different bones in a joint. In a sprained wrist, the ligaments get stretched beyond their normal limit, which causes damage. Directly falling on hands with palm wide open puts excessive strain on the wrist, eventually causing a sprain.

How to Treat a Sprained Wrist

The patient has to give complete rest for the first few days by avoiding all activities that trigger pain in the affected wrist. The person will definitely experience difficulty in moving the wrist, as the ligaments are damaged. In case the ligaments and muscles are torn partially or completely, it may take several days before one starts moving it freely. Whatever may be the severity of the injury, adequate rest is crucial for complete recovery. Not giving sufficient rest to the injured area will surely invite further complications.

Ice Therapy
Application of ice therapy helps to reduce the inflammation associated with this injury. Applying ice cubes immediately over the injured area can also work wonders to minimize the pain. Rub the ice cubes gently over the wrist sprain in a circular fashion for 15-20 minutes, 4-5 times in a day, to relieve pain. Icing the affected area for more than 20 minutes is not recommended, as it can injure the skin tissues. Ice therapy does not necessarily involve use of ice cubes. Frozen vegetables such as peas packed in a plastic bag, can also be used to get relief from pain. Ice therapy is found to be most effective when it is implemented in the first 48 hours after injury.

Another approach to reduce swelling would be to use a compression wrap. One can use an Ace bandage to alleviate the pain. This product is available at various drug stores and one does not have to shell out lot of money to purchase an ACE wrap (elastic bandage). Using wrist braces is also a good option. The ACE bandage constricts the dilated blood vessels at the injured site, in turn helping to decrease the swelling.

Keeping the hand in a raised position above the chest level, decreases blood flow to the sprained area. This also contributes in minimizing inflammation and internal bleeding. One can use pillows to keep the hand in an elevated position, when taking rest.

In case of minor sprain, you may experience a great deal of comfort by taking OTC painkillers. Ibuprofen (Motrin) tablets are especially useful as they not only alleviate pain but also relieve the inflammation.

This form of treatment is adopted when the doctor detects that the ligaments are completely torn. An X-ray or an MRI scan of the injured area will help to determine the extent of damage to the ligaments. To restore normal movements of the wrist suffering from fully torn ligament, surgery is the only option.

Exercise is a part of rehabilitation program, especially for people who have undergone a surgery to cure wrist sprain. However, exercise has to be done when the pain has subsided considerably and the patient is comfortable enough to move the hand. People still experiencing sharp pain should stay away from this form of wrist sprain treatment. One form of exercise involves holding a rubbing ball in the hand affected with wrist sprain and then squeezing it. Allow the hand to remain in this position for around 30 seconds. Now release the grip over the ball, so that it regains its normal size. Repeat this procedure 10-15 times, twice daily.

How to Prevent Wrist Sprain

One of the best ways to minimize the risk of wrist injuries is to wear a wrist guard. The device is very effective in substantially reducing the impact of shock force resulting from a fall. In a way, they shield the wrist to prevent or decrease the chances of wrist injuries. Gymnasts, divers and basketball players are prone to this type of injury. Beginners in skateboarding and snowboarding often lose their balance and fall hard on an outstretched hand. So, wearing appropriate protective gear for wrists while participating in any outdoor sports is often advised to keep injuries at bay.

Wrist Sprain Grade

The extent of tissue damage determines the grade of sprain. Wrist sprains are given grades as 1, 2 or 3 that help us to find out how severe is the injury. It is discussed below:
  • Grade 1 wrist sprain is not a cause for concern as there is no tearing of the ligaments. With appropriate rest, one can restore normal movement of wrist within 2-3 weeks.
  • Grade 2 sprains (ligaments slightly torn) are the most frequently diagnosed sprains with a healing time varying between 4-6 weeks.
  • Sprains that come under grade 3 are worst, as they cause maximum damage to the wrist tissues (ligaments completely torn) and generally require surgery.
On the whole, consult a doctor when rest, application of ice and wearing braces, fail to improve symptoms of wrist sprain. Treatment in such cases involve surgical repairing of damaged ligaments which would be considered to restore normal functioning of the wrist.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.