How Can You Tell if Your Wrist Is Sprained

How can you tell if your wrist is sprained? What kind of injury merits medical attention? Can you just shrug off a sprain injury?

What is a sprained wrist?
A sprained wrist is an injury where the ligaments that connect the carpal bones in your wrist has been compromised. The ligaments are usually damaged through a hyper extension or a hyper flexion of the wrist, which is a fancy way to say your wrist was bent too far in one direction or the other. When the ligaments are stretched too far, they may become damaged, torn or even completely severed.

How serious of a sprain injury is it?
The answer to this question depends on the extent of the damage done to the ligaments. A grade one sprain is a sprain where the ligaments were stretched too far and thereby damaged, so you will feel pain, but the ligaments can heal themselves without much attention. A grade two sprain is a sprain in which the ligaments were partially torn, which again will cause a lot of pain but will also heal as long as you rest the wrist. A grade three wrist sprain is very serious; one or more ligaments has been completely severed, and isolation of the wrist from movement and most likely surgery will be necessary in order for the ligament to reattach and heal properly.

Should you ever ignore a possible sprain?
While many sprains are not very painful and may indeed heal without medical attention, it's always best to see your doctor so he can check for broken bones, fractures and the possibility that you may have completely severed that ligament and need surgery. You will probably need an x-ray and an MRI. The x-ray will check for broken or fractured bones; the MRI will check the soft tissues for tears.

What is standard sprained wrist care?
No matter how limited or extensive the damage, you'll want to follow the RICE treatment, which is as follows:
R - Rest your wrist
I - Ice your wrist
C - Compress your wrist
E - Elevate your wrist

You'll want to follow this treatment plan until the wrist is no longer painful to use.

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