The bones of the body are connected by bands of tissue called ligaments. When a ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, the injury is called a sprain. Wrist sprains typically occur when a person tries to break a fall with an outstretched hand, and they are among the most common types of sprains during sports as well as everyday activities. Depending on the severity of the sprain, the injured person may experience mild symptoms or severe pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and popping sensations in the wrist.
A doctor’s examination can determine the whether the sprain is minor or severe. This workup includes a physical exam, X-rays, and possibly an MRI or CT scan. For a mild sprain, the patient will be instructed on the RICE protocol, which involves resting the wrist for 48 hours, icing the injury, compressing the wrist with a bandage to reduce swelling, and frequently elevating the wrist above the heart. The use of a stabilizing splint may also be advised. More severe ligament tears may require surgery to reconnect the ligament to the bone.