Wrist Sprains

Wrist Sprain Overview

A wrist sprain occurs when a wrist ligament is overstretched or partially torn. When diagnosed and treated properly, a wrist sprain heals quickly—symptoms are reduced and the patient returns to normal activities with minimal to no restrictions. Patients who injure their wrist and experience wrist sprain symptoms should make an appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) hand specialist as soon as possible.

Symptoms & Causes

Wrist sprain symptoms occur immediately after the injury. They may include:

  • Bruising
  • Difficulty moving the wrist
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

The most common cause of wrist sprains is a fall on an outstretched arm and open hand, usually during sports, recreational activities or manual labor.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options treat most wrist sprains. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA hand specialist may recommend:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Immobilization in a cast, splint or brace
  • Rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE)

A corticosteroid injection may be offered for fast-acting pain relief. Surgery may be recommended for complete ligament tears. A CONA hand specialist repairs or reconstructs the torn ligament. The wrist is placed in a splint for immobilization and protection purposes.


A wrist sprain diagnosis is made after a CONA specialist:

  • Obtains an injury report
  • Analyzes all symptoms
  • Performs a physical examination, including wrist strength and flexibility tests
  • Orders and analyzes x-rays and possibly an MRI and CT scan

Wrist sprains are classified as Grade 1 (mild), Grade 2 (moderate) and Grade 3 (severe).

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