Think you sprained your wrist? It is, unfortunately, a very common injury. You can get it after falling over, playing sports that put a lot of strain or pressure on your wrist (like tennis or boxing), and even after long hours of typing. Luckily, while it’s easy to get a sprained wrist, there are steps you can take to minimise your symptoms and help your ligaments heal. Let’s get into it.
Anatomy of a sprained wrist
A wrist sprain is an injury to one of the ligaments in your wrist. While there are 20 of these tough, fibrous bands of tissue stretching between the wrist, hand and arm, an NCBI study notes that it’s usually the triangular fibro cartilage complex (TFCC) or scapholunate ligaments that are affected. The TFCC runs on the pinky side while the scapholunate is in the middle wrist.
Generally, wrist sprains pop up through acute injury (like a sudden twist of the wrist or a bad fall). However, you can also damage your ligaments gradually through repetitive strain or stress. Symptoms include:
- Pain, especially when rotating or putting pressure on the wrist
- Laxity, weakness, or instability when trying to move the joint
- And sometimes, redness and bruising.
These symptoms can vary in severity quite drastically depending on how much damage your ligament sustained. With a grade 1 (overstretch) sprain, you might only get a bit of swelling and a mild twinge when moving your hand. With a grade 3 (complete tear) sprain, the pain can get so bad that patients often think they fractured a bone.
Mild sprains can heal within 48 hours, but moderate to severe injuries can take up to 8 weeks. Severe cases might also require surgery. But for most sprains, you can generally get away with conservative treatment.
Treating a wrist sprain
See a specialist
We always recommend speaking to a specialist ASAP. They’ll be able to rule out other injuries with similar symptoms (like tendonitis and fractures) and determine the severity of the sprain. They can also create the best treatment plan for you, whether that involves at-home care or surgery.
Rest and ice it
Rest your hand as much as possible for the first 48 hours after you notice symptoms. And for the first 72 hours, ice your wrist for 15 minutes a few times a day. This will help kick-start the healing process and limit swelling. You should also avoid any activities that put a lot of strain on your wrist. That means don’t move any heavy items like furniture and cast iron pans, avoid carrying grocery bags, and put any workouts that have you leaning on your hands on hold.
As we mentioned, ligament injuries often cause pain and swelling and make moving your wrist and hand difficult. But a quality compression brace like the ManuTrain can help solve these issues.
- Its compression knit fabric will activate your hand and forearm muscles to protect the joint better, while the support strap directly takes the pressure off your wrist.
- The compression fabric also boosts circulation and reduces the formation of edemas (your body’s inflammatory agents) to reduce swelling and facilitate healing.
- And last but not least, the compression knit and sewn-in gel pad will work together to massage away the pain.
You’ll be able to move your hand more comfortably and confidently in day-to-day life and as you go through your rehabilitative exercises (but more on that later).
Now, the ManuTrain is a great brace for grade 1 to milder grade 2 sprains. But more serious ligament damage may need a rigid brace like the ManuLoc. Its straps and aluminium stays will provide greater support, letting severely torn tissues stitch back together.
It might seem counterintuitive, but movement is often key to recovery. Again, aim to avoid activities that strain or put too much pressure on your wrist. But simple mobilisation movements and exercises can help you avoid stiffness and muscle deconditioning. And according to that NCIB study, it can lead to a quicker recovery for mild to moderate sprains than immobilisation. Try:
- Wrist Circles. Hold your arm out straight in front of you and gently rotate your wrist. Start with very small rotations and work your way toward larger circles if it’s comfortable to do so. Do 10 rotations clockwise and 10 counterclockwise.
- Squeeze a stress ball. A sprained wrist will often result in a weakened grip, so make sure to work on your grip strength. Hold a squishy ball in your hand and squeeze it as hard as you find comfortable.
- Wrist flexion and extension. Sit at a desk with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm resting on the table. Your hand should be over the edge, positioned parallel to the floor. While holding a water bottle, a small weight, or gripping a resistance band, bend your hand up toward you. For wrist flexion, your palm should face the floor. For wrist extension, the ceiling.
Remember, movement is good, but always keep an eye on your comfort levels. Too much stretch or strain can damage sprained ligaments, prolonging healing. If you feel pain, take a break, then reduce resistance or the amount of movement your wrist makes throughout the exercise. You can also do these exercises in a compression brace for extra support.
To sum up
Considering how much we need to move our hands, a sprained wrist can make day-to-day life challenging. Luckily, though, there are steps you can take to help the recovery process along. Rest, ice, bracing, therapeutic exercise, and (of course) seeing a physio will keep your healing ligaments on the right track and help you avoid further damage.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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