Ask a Doctor: Wrist Sprain

Dr. Khurram Pervaiz answers your questions about wrist sprains:

My doctor told me I have a “wrist sprain.” What is that?

A sprain is an injury that involves damage to the ligaments of the wrist. This damage may range from a simple stretch injury with inflammation and irritation of the ligament to a partial tear of the ligament.

What causes a wrist sprain?

Wrist sprains are most commonly caused by trauma. This trauma may range from a simple fall to a car accident or a sports injury. Athletes who participate in sports that involve impact to the wrist are particularly at risk. Gymnastics, cheerleading, martial arts, and CrossFit are some examples of sports that can cause wrist impact.

What are some of the symptoms of a wrist sprain?

The most common symptom of a wrist sprain is pain and swelling of the wrist.  Limited function with weakness and lack of use of the hand and wrist may also occur.

How can you treat a wrist sprain?

Treatment of a wrist sprain is based on your symptoms. Mild sprains may be treated with rest, ice, a wrist brace and anti-inflammatory medication. If these simple measures do not work, your doctor may recommend use of steroid medication to help decrease inflammation and pain.  In cases with stiffness, pain, and difficulty with use, hand therapy may be helpful in regaining normal function.

What do I watch for? What are some warning signs and red flags?

The most important aspect of wrist sprain injury treatment is an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, a more serious injury such as a fracture (broken bone) or even a complete ligament tear in the wrist may present with the same symptoms and signs as a wrist sprain.  Sometimes people treat wrist pain after injury as a sprain, and they find out later that they have a more serious injury. This can make further treatment more difficult. It is important to see your physician for the proper diagnosis and treatment of wrist sprains.

Khurram Pervaiz, MD is a partner at the Orthopedic Associates of Central Maryland (OACM) Division of the Centers for Advanced Orthopedics (CAO) in Columbia, MD and specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery. He completed his orthopedic surgery training at VCU Medical Center in Richmond and completed sub-specialty fellowships in hand surgery and shoulder & elbow surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and the Florida Orthopedic Institute.

Find a hand surgeon near you
Using this search tool means you agree to the user agreement and disclaimer.