Is My Wrist Sprained Or Is It Broken?

November 22nd, 2019 Becki Andrus

Your ligaments are comprised of fibrous connective tissue. They are tasked with the responsibility of keeping your joint intact by connecting your bones and stabilizing them. While they are sturdy and function effectively for you each day, issues can still emerge with your ligaments. In some cases, this can result in a sprain or break.

Sprains in the wrist often develop when the ligaments are extended beyond their normal range. In other cases, a sprain emerges when the ligaments become torn. 

An actual break of the wrist is referred to medically as a wrist fracture. Your wrist is comprised of eight bones that are joined to the radius and ulna – which are two bones of the forearm. A break or fracture can emerge with any of these bones.

Causes Of Sprains And Breaks

Some sprains can be mild while others are more serious in nature, and this is determined by the exact cause of your wrist issue. The degree of seriousness varies depending upon whether you experienced a fall, if your wrist was twisted, if it was bent, or if another type of problem occurred. 

The specifics of the incident will determine the amount of damage that was done to your ligament. You might encounter an accident with your wrist while you are undertaking your day-to-day activities. However, incidents are most likely to transpire if you are participating in sports or recreational activities.

The most common sports and activities in which sprained wrists occur include basketball, baseball, gymnastics, diving, skating, skiing, skateboarding, and in-line skating, Breaks are most likely for anyone who participates in football, horseback riding, rugby, hockey, skiing, snowboarding, in-line skating, or uses a trampoline.

Types Of Sprains And Breaks

Sprains are given grades which designate the seriousness of each issue. Grade 1 sprains are mild and involve ligaments that are stretched but have not been torn. Grade 2 sprains are still moderate although there will be additional damage to the ligament.

Grade 3 sprains are most severe. They involve ligaments that are 100% torn or have separated from their normal attachment to your bone. A Grade 3 sprain often requires medical and surgical attention.

The most common break or fracture in the wrist is a distal radius fracture. This involves the radius, which is the largest of your two bones that are located in the forearm. The end of the radius that is closest to the wrist is referred to as the distal end. This form of fracture commonly occurs when an individual attempts to minimize the impact of a fall by using his or her outstretched hand.  

Other fractures of the risk include scaphoid fracture which is the second most frequent form of a break within the wrist. This involves the scaphoid carpal bone which is located at the base of your thumb tendons. A Chauffer’s fracture involves the radius bone near the base of your thumb while an ulnar styloid fracture occurs with the ulnar – which is located adjacent to your hand near the end of your ulna.

As mentioned previously, there are other types of fractures that can develop within any of your eight carpal bones. It is recommended that you consult with a physician immediately if you have any concerns that you might have encountered a break within your wrist.

Symptoms Of Sprains And Breaks

If you or someone in your family is experiencing swelling, bruising, or a feeling of warmth surrounding the wrist, these are often symptoms that can indicate a sprain. If the wrist is also tender to the touch, or you notice a sensation of tearing or popping inside the wrist, this usually reveals the existence of a sprain.

A fractured or broken wrist can result in serious pain when you attempt to grip, squeeze, or move your wrist. You might also notice swelling, bruising, and tenderness. In some cases, your wrist can appear deformed or bent.

When To Visit A Doctor

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a sprain that were discussed earlier, you should visit a physician. He or she will then begin an examination by asking questions about your medical history along with the specifics that led to your current condition. It is also possible that your physician will order x-rays or other scans including MRIs, and CT scans..

If you are dealing with a fractured wrist, it is important to seek immediate medical care. Prompt attention will reduce the possibility that your bones will be unable to heal into the correct alignment. Immediate treatment for a broken wrist will also decrease stiffness and discomfort.

lf you are unsure whether your wrist issue is related to a sprain or a fracture, then you should visit a physician. He or she will be able to deliver a diagnosis and treat your condition after conducting a thorough examination.

Treatment For Sprains

If you have been officially diagnosed with a mild sprain, rest, ice, elastic compression bandages and elevation will usually provide sufficient treatment in order for the sprain to heal properly. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin might also be used in order to reduce swelling and pain.

Moderate sprains might also involve the use of a wrist splint for at least one week in order to immobilize your wrist. Serious sprains will often necessitate surgery in order to ensure that that ligament is fully repaired. The time period in which healing occurs can vary depending upon the specifics of your sprain.

Treatment For Breaks

Once your physician has determined that you have encountered a wrist fracture, the form of treatment will depend upon the specifics of your injury. In some cases, immobilization will be used in the form of a splint or cast to minimize movement of your broken bone.

Over the counter medications might be suggested, and physical therapy can often be utilized in order to minimize stiffness and help you return to normal movement of your wrist. Sometimes surgery will be the best form of treatment in order to ensure that your fractured bones heal properly.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Can Help

If you have any questions or concerns about the possibility that you are experiencing a sprain or break with one of your wrists, or if you need to talk with an experienced hand doctor about any other issue, the specialists at Orthopedic Associates understand how pain in your hand or wrist can affect your daily activities.

We also know that each hand and wrist injury must be approached with the utmost care, regardless of what type of injury you have suffered. At Orthopedic Associates, we are also dedicated to making sure that you recover fully so that you can return to depending on your hand and wrist as you did previously.

Hand doctor Kent F. Dickson, M.D is committed to providing effective, compassionate, and timely care. His expertise in educating our patients on how they can avoid future problems is also beneficial.

Here is the list of hand and wrist problems that we can help you with at Orthopedic Associates:

  • Animal Bites to the Hand
  • Basal Joint Osteoarthritis
  • Boutonniere Deformity
  • Boxer’s Fracture
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Colles Fractures
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Digital Mucous Cysts
  • Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)
  • Dupuytren’s Disease
  • Finger Dislocation/Felon
  • Fingertip Injuries
  • Flexor Tendon Injuries
  • Fractures of the Finger/Hand (Metacarpal Fractures)
  • Ganglion Cysts of the Hand
  • Kienbock’s Disease
  • Mallet Finger
  • Nerve Injuries of the Hand
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hand
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Paronychia
  • Polydactyly of the Hand
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Hand
  • Scaphoid Fractures
  • Swan Neck Deformity
  • Syndactyly of the Hand
  • Thumb Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Tears
  • Trigger Digit
  • Volar Plate Injuries
  • Wrist Sprain

Our orthopedic experts are also highly experienced in performing many different treatments and surgeries for the hand & wrist:

  • About Surgery of the Hand
  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Anesthesia
  • Anesthesia (Regional)
  • Artificial Joint Replacement of the Finger
  • Basal Joint Surgery
  • Biologics Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Release (Open Technique)
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • De Quervain’s Release
  • Digital Mucous Cyst Excision
  • Digital Nerve Repair
  • Distal Radius Fracture Repair with Volar Plate
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release
  • Finger Felon Drainage
  • Finger Fracture Fixation
  • Finger Joint Fusion (DIP Joint)
  • Ganglion Cyst Removal
  • Joint Synovectomy
  • Limited Palmar Fasciectomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Needle Aponeurotomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Scaphoid Fracture Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
  • Tendon Repair
  • Trigger Digit Release
  • Wrist Arthroscopy
  • Wrist Fusion (Total Wrist Arthrodesis)

If you are experiencing a problem with your hand or wrist, we encourage you to visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We will help guide you down the path of feeling better.

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