Wrist injuries are common and can affect individuals from all age groups. Due to the various use of the wrist in different recreational or work-related activities, it faces a higher risk for injury than other body parts. With this in mind, it’s important to know the common injuries and how they’re managed.
A Close Look At The Wrist
The structure of the wrist can be complex due to the number of joints present, along with bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Generally, the wrist links your hand to the forearm with the help of several joints. Due to this structure, it provides flexibility to move your hand in various directions.
This complex nature of the wrist makes it susceptible to traumatic and non-traumatic damage. In one study, wrist injury is a common incident for 50 years of age and onwards.
The treatment for wrist injuries will depend on the root cause. Most of the time, it would require splinting. Splinting is the most basic method of healing wrist injuries. It can help to lessen the pain and maintain proper alignment.
Even carpal tunnel syndrome can be remedied using the splinting method since it will immobilize the area and lessen the pressure on the median nerve. This will allow the wrist to rest from certain movements that aggravate the condition.
What Are The Common Wrist Injuries And Their Management Options?
The wrist can end up damaged in various ways. Here are some of the common wrist injuries you need to know.
- Wrist Fracture
Falling on an outstretched or extended hand is the main cause of a wrist fracture. The hand and the wrist will try to catch the fall. It’s a typical reaction when a person attempts to prevent falling on the floor, resulting in a wrist fracture.
Various wrist fractures can happen depending on the affected bone. The most common is a distal radius fracture and a scaphoid fracture. A distal radius fracture typically affects the forearm, close to the wrist, while a scaphoid fracture involves damage to one of the small bones, resulting in pain at the base of the thumb area.
In most wrist fractures, a doctor recommends a treatment plan involving a splint or a cast to be worn for five to six weeks, followed by a physical therapy routine to restore range of motion and strength. In severe damage, surgery may be the last option that involves the placement of pins to secure the damaged bones in the proper position.
- Wrist Sprain
A sprain in the wrist is usually a traumatic injury involving the ligaments. In most cases, a sprain can vary from a minimal tear of the ligament and can escalate to a full-blown tear that requires surgery.
Different wrist ligaments may be impacted due to accidents and other causes. One of the ligaments that can stretch or tear after a fall is the scapholunate ligament which facilitates the full motion of the wrist. In most cases, falling with a wrist sprain is most likely to happen during slip and fall accidents.
Generally, a wrist sprain will heal on its own. Wearing a splint with adequate rest, applying ice, elevation, and over-the-counter pain medications would help promote faster healing. Sadly, severe cases of sprains might require surgical intervention.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Trauma isn’t the only way for your wrist to end up damaged. Overusing the wrist is the root cause of non-traumatic injury, especially when it involves one of the wrist structures.
One of the conditions that affect people doing repetitive tasks is carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition will likely develop if constant pressure in the carpal tunnel eventually crushes the median nerve, triggering pain, weakness, and numbness.
Treatment starts with non-surgical measures such as splinting or bracing, a change in one’s routines, medications, and steroid shots. In one study, wearing a wrist splint may help lessen the pressure on the median nerve when performing repetitive hand gestures.
However, surgical intervention may be an option in cases involving severe pain with no response to common treatments.
- Wrist Dislocation
When a tear in one of the wrist ligaments causes several carpal bones to move out of their normal positions, you have a dislocated wrist. Although a dislocated wrist can affect any of the carpal bones, scaphoid and lunate bones are at the highest risk.
One of the main indications of a wrist dislocation is an unbearable pain, mostly felt during extensive movements. Other symptoms include tenderness, swelling, weakness, and discoloration of the impacted area.
In a minor case of wrist dislocation, a reduction is the initial treatment a doctor will do. The doctor carefully maneuvers the bone back into the right position during the procedure. The procedure can trigger pain, depending on the severity of the injury. In most circumstances, the doctor will administer local or general anesthesia to lessen the discomfort.
After reduction, splinting or casting may be necessary to prevent movement as the injury heals. In severe cases, surgery may be the best option that involves realignment of the wrist bones or repairing any torn ligaments.
Wrist injuries are common and can happen while engaging in any form of physical activity or even in the workplace. Although there are traumatic and non-traumatic causes of wrist injuries, timely treatment is crucial in healing the damaged wrist structures.
Knowing about common wrist injuries will allow you to take timely action and ensure you get the right treatment for rapid recovery.