The wrist consists of 8 small bones known as the carpal bones, in addition to ligaments that stabilize the bones, and tendons that help facilitate movement through the wrist and hand.
There are many different types of sprain and strains that can be sustained in the wrist depending on the mechanism of injury or cause of the pain. Because of this is it is best to seek advice from your hand therapist to determine the nature and cause of the pain and discomfort you are experiencing.
An injury to the wrist can be caused by (including but not limited to):
- Fall onto an outstretched hand
- Direct impact to the wrist or hand
- Forceful movements (forced hyper-extension or flexion)
- Overloading with weightbearing or pulling forces
- Compression combined with rotational overload (use of power tools)
- Over-use of muscles/ tendons crossing the wrist joint
- Compression of a nerve around the wrist.
What do I feel?
The symptoms associated with your wrist injury may vary dependent on when structures are involved. Commonly people feel:
- Sharp pain with activity
- Dull ache or no pain at rest
- Tenderness to touch around certain areas of the wrist
- Reduced movement at the wrist joint
- Inability to weight bear through the hand
- Reduced ability to lift things
People may also notice:
- Warmth to touch around injured area
What can you do?
- Ice in the first 24-48 hours of the injury.
- Compression with elastic bandage or taping.
- Elevate the wrist as often as possible during the first few days of the injury.
- Relative rest -> avoiding activities that increase your symptoms for the first few days.
If your pain is ongoing then make an appointment with your hand therapist for more specific details around the injury, in addition to management and rehabilitations strategies for this. If the pain you are experiencing is a result of a severe trauma and you suspect you may have fractured a bone, present to your nearest ED or urgent care provider.
How long will this take to get better?
The length of your recovery will vary, dependent on what structure in the wrist is injured. For a low grade, acute sprains your pain can resolve within 2-6 weeks. For more moderate to severe injuries the rehabilitation time can be 6-12weeks +. Having an early assessment after your injury will help to determine how long it may take you to recover, as well as providing a rehabilitation plan that will help you get back to what you enjoy doing.
Treatment from your Hand therapist
Patient education – Education re your injury and what external factors may be causing the pain. Your hand therapist might recommend modifications to your work and daily activities.
- Pain management – your therapist will address your pain, this may include ice or heat, splinting, changing activities, taping.
- Range-of-motion exercise and strengthening – Your movement may be limited and reduced by pain, your therapist will assist you in regaining your ROM and strength
- Manual therapy – Your therapist may apply hands on treatment.
- Functional training – Once your pain, strength, and motion improve, functional training can help you safely resume more demanding activities. Your therapist will create a series of activities to help you learn how to use and move your body correctly and safely. These may include retraining your movements and positioning when throwing, swinging a racket, lifting objects, or doing other daily activities.