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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A wrist injury happens when the tissues of your wrist joint are damaged. Your wrist joint is made up of tendons, ligaments, nerves, and bones. Two common types of injuries that can happen to your wrist are sprains and strains. A sprain can happen when the ligaments are stretched or torn. Ligaments are bands of elastic tissue that connect and hold the bones together. A strain happens when a tendon or muscle is overused, stretched, or torn. Tendons attach your hand and arm muscles to the bones of the wrist.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage your symptoms:
- Wrist supports: A cast or splint may be put on your fingers, hand, and wrist to support your wrist and prevent further damage. Wear these as directed. Ask for instructions on how to bathe while you are wearing a splint or case.
- Rest: You may need to rest your wrist for at least 48 hours and avoid activities that cause pain. Ask what activities you should avoid and for how long.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your injured wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
- Compression: Your primary healthcare provider may suggest you wrap your wrist with an elastic bandage. This will help decrease swelling, support your wrist, and help it heal. Wear your wrist wrap as directed. Ask for instructions on how to wrap your wrist.
- Elevation: When you sit or lie down, keep your wrist at or above the level of your heart. This may help decrease pain and swelling.
Your primary healthcare provider may recommend that you go to physical therapy. A physical therapist shows you how to do exercises that can help to strengthen your wrist and improve its range of movement. These exercises may also help decrease your pain.
Prevent another wrist injury:
- Do strengthening exercises: Your primary healthcare provider or physical therapist may suggest that you do exercises to strengthen your hand and arm muscles. Ask when you may return to your regular physical activities or sports. If you start to exercise too soon it may cause you to injure your wrist again.
- Protect your wrists: Wrist guard splints or protective tape can help to support your wrist during exercise and sports. These devices may also keep your wrist from bending too far back. Ask for more information about the type of wrist support that you should use.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- The bruising, swelling, or pain in your wrist gets worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- The skin on or near your wrist or hand feels cold, or it turns blue or white.
- The skin on or near your wrist or hand is very tight, raised, and swollen.
- You have new trouble moving and using your hands, fingers, or wrist.
- Your wrist, hands, or fingers become swollen, red, numb, or they tingle.
- Your wrist has any open wounds, including from surgery, that are red, swollen, warm, or have pus coming from them.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.