The wrist is often injured, and there are many different types of injuries you could sustain including a sprained wrist, wrist fracture, ligament tear, etc. Most often, a sprained wrist takes place because of a fall or sudden twisting motion of the wrist. It can sometimes be hard to tell how severe your wrist injury is because many of these injuries have similar symptoms. A sprained wrist means that you’ve either stretched or torn a ligament. Ligaments are what connect the many bones in your wrist.
Here are some signs that you have a sprained wrist:
- Pain when moving the wrist
These symptoms may seem generic, and that’s because they are! You may experience similar symptoms if you’ve broken your wrist. So, how can you tell if you’re experiencing a sprained wrist? The answer is to see a hand specialist right away. Hand specialists, also known as hand surgeons, treat the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and often the shoulder as well. Your hand surgeon will examine your wrist to see where it hurts and how easily you’re able to move it. He/she will likely take an x-ray to see if there are broken bones or ligament tears, which could mean something more serious.
Types of Wrist Sprains
If your hand surgeon confirms that you’ve sprained your wrist, it could mean you’ve injured one of many ligaments in the wrist; however, the two most commonly injured ligaments in the wrist are the scapholunate ligament (in the middle of the wrist) and the TFCC (on the outside of the wrist), which stands for triangular fibrocartilage complex. The TFCC is an incredibly important structure in the wrist. It helps connect your forearm bones to the pinkie finger, ultimately stabilizing that entire side of your wrist.
TFCC tears are unique in that they can happen from an injury like a typical wrist sprain, but they can also be caused by natural wear and tear as we get older. Sometimes, there are no symptoms associated with a TFCC tear. Others may experience the symptoms described above as well as a clicking/popping sound when moving the wrist from side to side.
Treating a Sprained Wrist
Many times, a sprained wrist can be treated without surgery. Your hand surgeon may recommend icing it or wearing a splint for a period of time. You’ll be expected to rest your wrist for at least a few days but sometimes up to 6 weeks. Your surgeon may also recommend a pain medication. In some cases, an injection could be helpful. Talk to your hand surgeon about the best treatment option for you.
You can find a board-certified hand surgeon in your area through the American Society for Surgery of the Hand at https://www.assh.org/handcare/fahs.