It’s a natural instinct to break a fall with an outstretched hand, which is why wrist sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. When you break a fall with your hand and wrist, the weight of your body forces the wrist back toward your forearm, stretching the ligaments that connect the wrist and hand. A wrist sprain can range in severity from a tiny tear to a total break of the ligament.
Wrist sprains are often divided into three different categories: grade I, grade II and grade III. Grade I sprains are mild, and occur anytime the ligament is stretched, but not torn. Grade II sprains are considered moderate, and occur when the ligament is partially torn. Finally, grade III sprains are severe and indicate a total tear of the ligament. Medical or surgical care is typically required in the case of a grade III sprain.
So how can you identify a sprained wrist? Many of the common symptoms of a sprained wrist include bruising, swelling, ongoing pain any time you move your wrist, and warmth and/or a popping feeling inside the wrist. If you show symptoms of a sprained wrist, it’s imperative that a doctor evaluate your wrist injury to ensure you don’t suffer long-term stiffness or pain.
When discussing your wrist sprain with your doctor, be sure to mention any previous wrist injuries you have sustained. It’s also important to inform your doctor of the specifics of your injury, such as when the injury happened, how the injury occurred and what symptoms you experience. If you notice numbness in your hand, you should let your doctor know immediately. Your doctor may want to X-ray the wrist or, in some cases, perform an MRI or CT scan.
While wrist sprains may be painful, they are often easy to treat. Most of the time, a sprained wrist will heal on its own. There are a few ways to alleviate the pain of a wrist sprain and speed the healing process. Rest your wrist for a couple of days, icing it for 20-30 minutes every few hours. Keep the wrist elevated, take over-the-counter pain relievers according to the correct dosage and utilize wrist-strengthening exercises. Severe wrist sprains often require surgery to repair the snapped ligament.