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Wrist Sprain, Ambulatory Care

A wrist sprain

happens when a ligament in your wrist is stretched or torn. Ligaments are tough tissues that connect bones. Ligaments support your joints and keep your bones in place. A wrist sprain is usually caused by a fall onto your outstretched hand, an injury that causes sudden twisting of the wrist.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Bruising or changes in skin color
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Popping sound in your wrist when you move it
  • Swelling and tenderness

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Cold or numbness below the injury, such as in your fingers
  • Increased pain, even after taking pain medicine
  • New or increased trouble moving and using your hands, fingers, or wrist

Treatment for a wrist sprain

may include a support device, such as a brace, cast, or splint. These devices limit movement and protect your joint. Treatment may also include pain medicine, physical therapy, or surgery if the ligament does not heal.

Care for a wrist sprain:

  • Rest your wrist for at least 48 hours. Avoid activities that cause pain. Return to normal activities as directed.
  • Apply ice on 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. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Use an elastic bandage as directed. An elastic bandage supports your wrist and decreases swelling so it can heal. 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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