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- Playing sports
- Job- or activity-related repetitive motion of the wrist
- Poor coordination
- Poor balance
- Reduced flexibility and strength in muscles and ligaments
- Loose joints
- Not wearing wrist guards during activities, such as in-line skating
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling around the wrist
- Redness, warmth, or bruising around the wrist
- Limited ability to move the wrist
- Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of ligament tissue
- Grade 2—Partial tearing of ligament tissue
- Grade 3—Complete tearing of ligament tissue
- Over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen
- Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
- Prescription pain relievers
- A brace—You may need to wear a brace to keep your wrist still as it heals.
- A cast—If you have a severe sprain, your doctor may recommend a cast for 2-3 weeks.
- Rehabilitation exercises—Begin exercises to restore flexibility, range of motion, and strength in your wrist as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist.
- Surgery—Surgery is rarely needed to repair a wrist sprain. However, surgery may be needed to repair a ligament that is torn completely, or if there is an associated fracture .
- Wearing protective equipment and using proper technique while playing sports
- Keep wrists strong with regular exercises to absorb the energy of sudden physical stress
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Abraham MK, Scott S. The emergent evaluation and treatment of hand and wrist injuries. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2010 Nov;28(4):789-809.
Parmelee-Peters K, Eathorne SW. The wrist: common injuries and management. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2006 March 32(1).
Sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Sprains%5FStrains/default.asp. Updated January 2015. Accessed June 22, 2015.
Wrist sprains. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00023. Updated September 2010. Accessed September 10, 2013.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2015 -
- Update Date: 06/22/2015 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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