Prevention of wrist sprain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

A sprained wrist is a common injury that typically occur after a fall on an outstretched hand.

The number one cause of a wrist sprain is an accidental fall (often while skating, riding a scooter, bicycling, or snowboarding) that leads to over-stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the wrist. If a fall occurs, get quick treatment.

Rest and avoid using the injured wrist and hand.

Apply ice or a cold pack to the wrist for 15 to 20 minutes, four times a day for several days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.

Wrap the wrist in an elastic compression bandage (i.e., Ace bandage). This will limit swelling and support your wrist.

Keep the injured wrist raised above the level of your heart for 48 hours. This will reduce swelling.

Anti inflammatory drugs can help reduce inflammation and pain.

A brace to immobilize the wrist may be needed. If you play sports, you may need to wear a wrist brace or tape your wrist when you return to play.

With a severe sprain, the doctor may recommend a cast for two to three weeks.

Begin exercises to restore flexibility, range of motion, and strength in your wrist as recommended by the pysician or physical therapist.

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.

To prevent sports-related wrist sprains, wear protective equipment that supports the wrist. In particular, snowboarders and inline skaters should protect their wrists by using wrist guards. Platform divers may wear protective tape, wrist splints or wraps that limit extension of the wrist.

To prevent wrist sprains related to skiing, choose ski poles that have a low-profile grip with finger grooves. Also, grip ski poles without using straps.

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