Treatment for Sprained or Fractured Wrists

Treatment for Sprained or Fractured Wrists | UPMC Italy

Wrist injuries, such as fractures and sprains, can occur in various ways and from different causes. They are common among those who practice certain sports, both at a competitive and amateur level, such as tennis, water polo, basketball, but also table tennis. In the latter case, for example, wrist injuries are particularly widespread. The injury is often associated with ulnar pathology related to the extensor tendon, usually occurring during backhand shots.

In other cases, wrist injuries can be caused by a fall, as, to cushion it, you instinctively stretch out your hand, causing all of your body weight to fall on your wrist.

After one of these events, it's common to wonder: Is this a sprain or fracture of the wrist? Let's discover together the difference between the two injuries, and how to best manage them.

Is It a Sprain or Fracture?

Wrist sprains and fractures are especially common among athletes and older people, who are more prone to tripping and falling. Both occur when the hand impacts the ground, pushing the wrist backward towards the forearm. In a sprain, this movement can stretch or tear the ligaments and tendons in the wrist. A fracture, on the other hand, occurs when one or more bones in the wrist break.

Only an x-ray can determine whether it is a fracture. However, a fracture is more likely to cause a sharp pain that prevents you from moving your wrist, while a sprain is characterized by a throbbing pain that may still allow some range of motion.

Sprained Wrist Treatment

Most wrist sprains will heal on their own over time. In these cases, we proceed by bandaging the wrist and keeping it at rest for at least 48 hours, applying ice packs several times for 20 minutes each time.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can also be helpful. Your doctor may recommend using a compression bandage or splint for a short period of time and suggest doing stretching exercises to strengthen your wrist during the healing process.

Fractured Wrist Treatment

If the fracture requires it, the specialist may have to rearrange the bone by operating under anesthesia. You may also need to wear a cast or splint until the bone heals, and physical therapy may be recommended following removal.