For many people, the thought of an injury is troubling only if the injury seems major.
A broken bone or even a fracture is seen as a big problem. But we rarely consider things like sprains to be as troublesome – yet they should be placed in a similar category.
Sprains occur when strong ligaments are pushed beyond their limit. In some cases, a sprain can even see these ligaments tear. Sprains can occur for a variety of reasons. From sports accidents to simply moving a part of the body wrong under certain conditions during daily activities, sprains are a very common injury.
You could fall with your hand outstretched, or twist your arm in an odd way – the result may be a sprained wrist. One of the most common areas to experience a sprain, this type of ailment can be especially problematic.
Even if you aren’t an athlete who is concerned about losing time in competition, you will still experience issues in day-to-day life if you sprain your wrist. Today we’ll talk about the problems a sprained wrist can present, as well as how to relieve this pain.
Why Sprained Wrists Cause So Much Trouble
There’s no doubt that any type of injury can cause problems in a person’s daily life. Even a minor injury can be an annoyance and a distraction, affecting the individual’s mental wellness to some degree.
But the wrist is a particularly bad place to experience a sprain just because of how vital it is to so many daily actions we partake in. Opening doors, picking up things, turning keys, bracing to get up from a prone position, turning a steering wheel, and many other actions all rely on healthy wrists to complete.
The wrist is able to function properly only when all the necessary components are working properly. The ligaments, also known as the fibrous tissue connecting bones, function to bring smooth movement to the hand and lower arm bones.
When the fibrous tissue is stressed or torn, the bones may not be able to receive proper support. They may face balance issues and thus trying to make them move as normal will result in pain. It’s a tough injury, but it isn’t a homogenous one – here are some different levels of sprains a person could face with their wrist.
The wrist sprains a person faces will depend on the type of injury they received. Athletes from all sports are at risk for wrist sprains.
Basketball players, baseball players, divers, skiers, all types of skaters, gymnasts, boxers, weightlifters, and many other types of athletes could experience sprained wrists from daily activities.
But when you’ve sustained this type of injury, how can you treat it? Do you need to seek medical help, and if so, what will the medical professional do to handle your sprain?
Relieving Wrist Sprain: Home and Professional Remedies
When you have sprained your wrist, you’ll likely know it immediately. Wrist sprain is categorized by pain, swelling, tenderness, warmth, and bruising. You may even hear a pop at the time of injury, which is a direct sign that something bad is wrong.
Let’s split up the treatment solutions into three categories. We’ll go over the actions you can take yourself, the actions your physician may take in treating your injury, and finally a category about things you shouldn’t do.
How to Treat Your Wrist Sprain at Home
Full disclosure – we aren’t telling you not to seek professional treatment in the case of a wrist sprain. In the next category, we’ll cover why it is so important to do so. But for immediate relief (at least partially) of your wrist sprain, the first thing you want to do is rest it.
It will be very hard not to use your wrist, especially since it is used for so many things. But you should rest if for at least 48 hours, and also apply ice to reduce the pain and swelling. Compression and elevation are also important steps. While a cold compress could be used, you could also make an elastic bandage work and simply apply an ice pack every 20-30 minutes for a few minutes at a time.
Elevation will ensure your wrist has a reduced chance of swelling as blood and fluid will have a harder time reaching it if it is above your heart. You can also take some anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the pain.
Professional Treatments for a Sprained Wrist
It is always a good idea to visit a physician if you have a sprained wrist. You may get by with treating a Grade 1 by yourself – minimal soreness can go away in a few days or even a few hours if you treat it fast enough with the proper steps and medication.
But there’s always a chance you’ve hurt yourself worse than you thought. And because our bodies are interdependent organisms that rely on so many parts working together, an injury to a ligament can lead to damaged bones, vessels, and even entire limbs if you aren’t careful.
Your physician will likely start with an X-ray or MRI to get a more accurate look at the damage you’ve done and ensure you aren’t at risk for more severe problems. An arthrogram may be required, which is essentially a special X-ray or MRI done after dye is injected in the wrist. Arthroscopy may also be required in extreme cases – this is a procedure that sees a small camera inserted into the wrist via a minimally invasive surgery.
Doctors may recommend surgery, the wearing of a brace, or both to mend the injury. While it can seem excessive, it’s better not to put off treatment for a sprain as it could always grow worse if reaggravated.
What Not to Do with a Wrist Sprain
You also don’t want to begin using the wrist again too soon. Even shortly after you’ve stopped noticing symptoms, it’s good to take a day or two and go light with your activity to make sure the wrist has fully healed. An injury can easily be reaggravated, especially shortly after it has healed.
You’ll also want to go easy on the wrist when it comes to athletic training shortly after. In the days or weeks after it has fully recovered, ease back into your old regimen rather than starting back straight away at full strength.
Dealing with the Pain (and Annoyance) of a Wrist Sprain
Oftentimes the biggest problem a person faces when they have a sprained wrist is dealing with the limited mobility.
The pain can be serious in some cases, but the real issue for many is not having full use of their hand and arm. It’s tough especially for athletes who compete in sports at academic or professional organizations – being away from training and competition can be tough.
But the best thing to do about wrist sprain is to get proper treatment and nurse the injury carefully. Failure to do so can result in the injury time being much longer than it would’ve been otherwise.
Allowing a sprained wrist time to heal up and mend completely makes certain the injury will not cause long-term problems, and that you’ll be able to regain full mobility of the wrist for both sports and everyday life.