A wrist sprain occurs when one or more ligaments (bands of tissue that connect the bones at the joint) is stretched or torn. This is a common injury that happens most often when one falls and lands on an outstretched hand. It is not usually related to overuse.

Wrist sprains vary in severity. A Grade 1 (mild) sprain usually involves stretching of a ligament. A Grade 2 (moderate) sprain may result in a partial ligament tear. A Grade 3 (severe) sprain involves a complete rupture of one or more ligaments that may pull off a bone fragment (avulsion fracture).

Most individuals who sprain a wrist experience sudden pain at the time of injury, pain when moving the wrist, and tenderness and mild swelling where the ligament was damaged. In more severe sprains, there may be a popping or tearing feeling, and bruising may develop.

It is important to have all but the mildest wrist sprains evaluated by a hand subspecialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group to determine the extent of the injury and prevent the wrist from further damage.

Treatment for most wrist sprains involves rest, ice, compression with a wrap or splint, and elevation of the wrist above heart level to help decrease swelling. More severe injuries may require immobilizing the wrist for several weeks to help the ligament heal or surgery to reattach ruptured ligaments to the bone.