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What to do if you’ve sprained your wrist?

You are probably here because you have fallen onto your outstretched hand right? You might not be, but this is the most common cause of wrist sprains. Damaging your wrist can not only cause a huge amount of pain, but may prevent you from your daily activities. But what does a sprained wrist feel like and how can you heal it?

What is a sprained wrist?

A sprained wrist is a common but painful injury to ligaments in the wrist, ranging from mild to severe. Wrist sprains are caused by the force of impact over-stretching the ligaments that connect the bones of the wrist and hand, resulting in mild to complete tearing of the ligaments. When a sprain occurs, you may experience symptoms including bruising and swelling around the wrist.

Sprains range in severity, from grade one to three:

Grade 1 (mild sprain)
The ligament stretched too far but did not tear.

Grade 2 (moderate sprain)
The ligament has been partially torn, and function in the wrist or hand may be limited.

Grade 3 (severe sprain)
The ligament has been completely torn.

Any grade of sprain warrants a call to your doctor, with Grade 3 sprains requiring medical attention.

Have I strained or sprained my wrist?

The key difference between a sprain and a strain is that, as mentioned, wrist sprains involve damage to the ligaments, whereas strains involve injury to the muscles and tendons.

Similar symptoms are likely to arise whether you have sprained or strained your wrist, and the treatment and recovery process is similar too. A doctor will be able to provide a diagnosis.

What does a sprained wrist feel like?

Symptoms of a sprained wrist can include:

  • Bruising around the wrist
  • Swelling of the wrist
  • Warmth around the wrist
  • Feeling tender to the touch
  • Difficulty moving the wrist

What does a sprained wrist look like?

Typically, a sprained wrist will be swollen, and may have bruising.

A doctor may be able to diagnose your sprained wrist with an examination, or they may need to take an x-ray to confirm the sprain.

How do you heal a sprained wrist?

You can typically treat a sprained wrist at home with minimal medical intervention. If it is a more serious sprain, you may need a splint or surgery. Speed up the healing of your sprained wrist using the RICE method.

Additionally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can quickly help reduce pain and swelling in the wrist.

Before you do any exercises we advise that you seek medical advice. Either from a Doctor or a qualified Osteopath.

How long does a sprained wrist take to heal?

It depends on the severity of the injury, but the majority of sprains heal in three to eight weeks. You can expect to see a full recovery of your sprained wrist by this time.

Failing to rest your wrist, or adding more pressure, can prolong the sprain and potentially increase the tear of the ligament, so make sure you follow medical guidelines and continue observation of the wrist in future to avoid any further injury.

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