How to tell if your wrist is sprained

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sprained wrist
A sprained wrist hurts, swells and often becomes discolored
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Know how to tell if your wrist is sprained by how it looks and feels

You just did a half gainer over your very large dog, who was supposed to be moving forward but instead stopped to smell the roses. Argh! You tried to catch yourself with the palm of your hand and boy does your wrist ever hurt as a result. How to tell if your wrist is sprained?

Symptoms can vary but a sprained carpus usually swells and hurts like the dickens. When moving the joint at the base of the hand, you experience pain. The skin is discolored and bruised. The skin around the radiocarpal joint feels warm. You feel a popping and tearing sensation inside the carpus.

When a person strains the joint he has injured the soft tissues, which are ligaments. Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that connect bones. When a articultion radiocarpea is powerfully bent as a result of a fall or impact the ligaments are stretched too far or even torn.

When falling or receiving a forceful direct impact causing the radiocarpal joint or hand to twist or bend harshly in an abnormal motion this leads to injury. Strains can also result from repetitive use of the articulation radiocarpea.

A wrenched carpus ranges from Grade 1 to Grade 3 in terms of severity. The mildest injury is Grade 1. This means micro-tearing of tissue has occurred along with stretching of ligaments. Grade 2 is a moderate injury. Ligaments are partly torn and the injured person experiences some loss of function. There is volatility at the joint. An acute injury falls into the Grade 3 category. A ligament is torn and may require surgical repair. When a ligament tears away from a bone it sometimes takes a diminutive chip of bone along with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.


What do you do now? Use the RICE method of treatment. REST the injured joint and hand. Apply ICE to the area for 15 minutes, several times a day. Ice diminishes swelling and pain. Do not put ice directly onto the skin; instead, wrap the ice in a towel or use an ice pack.

Wrap the joint in a COMPRESSION bandage. This thwarts swelling and gives the carpus support. ELEVATE the wrist. Keeping it above the heart will ease swelling and help fluids drain.

OTC medications such as ibuprofen lessen pain and inflammation. Applying topical pain medication to the site helps. Massage, heat therapy and therapeutic ultrasound are recommended for those with temperate strains.

You can and should wear a brace to immobilize the joint. If the sprain is grave you may need to wear a cast. Sometimes surgery is required when a ligament is wholly torn and when a fracture has taken place.

Undergoing rehabilitation helps the injured person regain range of motion, elasticity and strength.

Avoid Sprained Wrists

Taping the joint provides support and lessens the stress on the carpus when engaging in certain activities. There are various taping techniques. Ask a therapist which is best for your particular injury.

The tape should not be so tight that it results in discoloration of the skin, or causes more pain and leads to swelling, numbness, itching or redness of the skin. The best tape to use to restrict motion is adhesive, non-stretch or rigid sports tape.

Taping the carpus lessens the likelihood you will experience a sprain or aggravate a previous injury. The tape also helps the injured joint to heal quicker.


If you have allergies to sport tape, do not use it. If you have a fracture, your therapist may advise you not to tape the joint. If you have circulatory or sensory problems do not use tape.

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