Sprained Wrist Treatment
How is a sprained wrist treated at home?
Mild wrist sprains will usually improve with home treatment that includes the RICE protocol:
- Rest. Try not use your wrist for at least 48 hours.
- Ice. Apply ice immediately after the injury to keep the swelling down. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly on the skin.
- Compression. Wear an elastic compression bandage to reduce swelling.
- Elevation. As often as possible, rest with your wrist raised up higher than your heart.
Additionally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and swelling. If pain and swelling persist for more than 48 hours, however, see a doctor.
How is a sprained wrist treated without surgery?
Moderate sprains may need to be immobilized, prevented from moving flexibly, with a wrist splint for one week or more. Because immobilization may cause some stiffness in your wrist, your doctor may recommend some stretching exercises to help you regain full mobility.
How is a sprained wrist treated with surgery?
Severe sprains may require surgery to repair the fully torn ligament. Surgery involves reconnecting the ligament to the bone or using a tendon graft to reconstruct the injured ligament. Your doctor will talk with you about which option is best in your situation.
Surgery is followed by a period of rehabilitation that includes exercises to strengthen your wrist and restore range of motion. Although the ligament usually heals in 8 to 12 weeks, it can take from 6 to 12 months for a full recovery. The length of the recovery process and your outcomes will depend on the severity of the sprain.
How can you prevent a sprained wrist?
Because wrist sprains usually result from a fall, be careful when walking in wet or slippery conditions. Wrist sprains also occur during sports, such as skating, skateboarding, and skiing. Wearing wrist guards or protective tape when participating in these activities will help support your wrist and can prevent it from bending too far backward if you fall.