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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A wrist sprain happens when one or more ligaments in your wrist stretch or tear. Ligaments are tough tissues that connect bones and keep them in place, and support your joints.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have severe pain or swelling.
- Your injured wrist is red or has red streaks spreading from the injured area.
- You have new trouble moving your hands, fingers, or wrist.
- Your wrist, hand, or fingers feel cold or numb.
- Your fingernails turn blue or gray.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You have pain and swelling for more than 48 hours.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
- Rest your wrist for at least 48 hours. Avoid activities that cause pain.
- Ice your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you put it on your wrist. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Compress your wrist with an elastic bandage. This will help decrease swelling, support your wrist, and help it heal. Wear your wrist wrap as directed. The elastic bandage should be snug but not tight.
- Elevate your wrist above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your wrist on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
You may need to wear a splint or cast to support your wrist and prevent more damage. Wear your splint as directed. Ask for instructions on how to bathe while you are wearing a splint or cast.
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you go to physical therapy. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.