Wrist Sprain

The Hand & Wrist Center
at Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey

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Paramus, NJ 07652


2025 Hamburg Turnpike
STE C, Wayne, NJ 07470


3799 US-46
#207, Parsippany, NJ 07054

Wrist sprains are common injuries that involve the overstretching or tearing of one or more wrist ligaments (bands of tissue that connect bones in the joint). If you are experiencing limiting pain after a fall or blow to the wrist, a sprain could be the cause.

Seek medical care if pain and swelling are severe or do not improve within a day or two with rest and ice. Learn more below about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for wrist sprains:

Understanding a Wrist Sprain

A sprain is a ligament injury that encompasses everything from a “pull” to a ligament to a severe tear/detachment.  Wrist sprains can be caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand, extreme twisting pressure, or a strong blow to the wrist joint. They most commonly impact the scapholunate ligament (the ligament that connects the scaphoid and lunate bones), but can also involve any number of the twenty ligaments that support the eight wrist bones that comprise your joint.

Wrist sprains can range from extremely mild to extremely severe. Three grades are used to classify their characteristics:

  • Grade 1 – One or more wrist ligaments are stretched but not torn; pain is mild.
  • Grade 2 – One or more wrist ligaments are partially torn; pain is moderate; loss of function may be evident.
  • Grade 3 – One or more wrist ligaments are completely torn through or detached from the bone; pain is severe; loss of function is evident.

Identifying a Wrist Sprain: Symptoms and Diagnosis

Common Symptoms of a Wrist Sprain

Wrist sprain symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the ligaments affected. They may include:

  • Wrist pain and tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Difficulty moving the wrist
  • Limited range of motion


How Is a Wrist Sprain Diagnosed?

Wrist sprain diagnosis begins with a physical examination. Your doctor will ask about the mechanism of injury (how the injury happened) and will evaluate the pain level, swelling, and range of motion in your injured wrist. For diagnosis and planning, the areas that are tender and painful are important as is the stability of the various ligament of the wrist.  If the ligaments work (e.g. “are stable”) but are sore, they are more likely to get better with rest and time than an unstable wrist that shifts when your doctor stresses it.

Very likely, an X-ray will also be ordered to rule out bone damage. With more severe injuries, a CT scan or MRI may be done to better understand the exact nature and extent of the ligament damage.

Effective Treatments for a Wrist Sprain

A sprained wrist is initially treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications to further reduce swelling. During the recovery process, stretching and range of motion exercises can help to restore full wrist stability and function.  A brace is often recommended to allow the wrist to rest and protect the ligaments while they heal.

In severe cases, surgical treatment may be recommended to repair ligaments in the wrist. Such treatment is often arthroscopic and can sometimes be performed without general anesthesia.

Preventing Wrist Sprains and Recovery Expectations

Recovery Expectations

Though healing time varies depending on the extent of the injury, patients usually make a full recovery from wrist sprains and are able to resume full activity within a matter of weeks or months. Complications are rare and most often arise if other wrist injuries have occurred alongside a sprain.

Preventing Wrist Sprains

A wrist sprain can happen to anyone, but there are some straightforward ways to prevent this type of injury:

  • Wear wrist guards when participating in activities where there is a high likelihood of falling on your wrist.
  • Stretch and strengthen your wrists regularly, especially if you play sports that involve wrist flexibility and movement.
  • Use a walking support if you struggle with balance or are otherwise prone to falls.


Get Professional Help for Your Wrist Sprain

If you’ve sustained a wrist injury and are experiencing pain that is severe or isn’t resolving, the award-winning surgical team at Modern Orthopaedics of New Jersey is ready to help. From diagnosis to treatment, we know wrists inside and out and can provide you with a personalized treatment plan to help you regain optimal wrist function.

Contact our office today to schedule an appointment!

 Our Awarded

Peter DeNoble, MD

Peter DeNoble, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Alejandro Morales-Restrepo, MD

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

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