What is wrist sprain?

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Wrist sprain: Overview

Your wrist hurts because you have stretched or torn ligaments, which connect the bones in your wrist.

Wrist sprains usually take from 2 to 10 weeks to heal, but some take longer. Usually, the more pain you have, the more severe your wrist sprain is and the longer it will take to heal. You can heal faster and regain strength in your wrist with good home treatment.

How can you care for yourself when you have a wrist sprain?

  • Prop up your arm on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down for the next 3 days. Try to keep your wrist above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Put ice or cold packs on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin.
  • After 2 or 3 days, if your swelling is gone, apply a heating pad set on low or a warm cloth to your wrist. This helps keep your wrist flexible. Some doctors suggest that you go back and forth between hot and cold.
  • If you have an elastic bandage, keep it on for the next 24 to 36 hours. The bandage should be snug but not so tight that it causes numbness or tingling. To rewrap the wrist, wrap the bandage around the hand a few times, beginning at the fingers. Then wrap it around the hand between the thumb and index finger, ending by circling the wrist several times.
  • If your doctor gave you a splint or brace, wear it as directed to protect your wrist until it has healed.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Try not to use your injured wrist and hand.

Wrist sprain: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your hand or fingers are cool or pale or change color.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.