A sprain in the wrist is an injury to its ligaments, the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to one another inside a joint.
Although most people speak of the wrist as a single joint between the forearm and hand, the wrist actually contains many joints that link 15 separate bones.
The ligaments that connect these bones can be torn by any extreme twist, bend or impact that suddenly forces the wrist into a position beyond its normal range of motion.
The wrist consists of several ligaments and tendons that help provide strength and flexibility to the hand.
Extrinsic ligaments that connect the wrist bones to the long bones of the forearm and the bones of the hand. Extrinsic ligaments include several volar radiocarpal ligaments, volar ulnocarpal ligaments, and dorsal ligaments.
Intrinsic ligaments that connect the wrist bones to each other. Intrinsic ligaments include several proximal row ligaments, distal row ligaments, and palmar midcarpal ligaments.
- Tenderness to touch
- A feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist
- A feeling of warmth around the wrist
A wrist sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the wrist stretch beyond their limits or tear. This occurs when the wrist is bent or twisted forcefully, such as caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand.
Most sprains can be treated with rest and ice and will heal on their own.
For moderate wrist sprains, especially in professional or competitive athletes, the wrist may be immobilized in a splint or light cast for seven to 10 days.
If you have a significant wrist injury, you will need physical therapy as soon as symptoms allow.
Athletes usually can return to competition once symptoms subside, although it may be advisable to protect the injured wrist with a support splint.
When a severe wrist sprain causes significant instability in the wrist, surgery may be required.
The risk of a wrist sprain can be reduced by strengthening the surrounding muscles of the wrist.
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