Acute Wrist Injuries
Sudden onset injuries are called acute injuries and are usually caused by a fall onto the hand with an outstretched arm or a forced twisting movement. Damage can occur to the bones, ligaments (connect bone to bone) or tendons (connect muscle to bone) in the wrist. In the first 72 hours, the first aid principles of P.R.I.C.E. are advised including protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If a broken bone (fracture) is suspected, then always seek medical advice immediately.
A wrist strain is a general term used to describe pain in the wrist. The pain may be due to a sudden force causing an acute wrist injury, or due to overuse, causing a repetitive strain injury. The area can feel tender, especially when moving it. Because of this, complete rest is the best treatment for recovering from a strain.
A sprained wrist is an injury to any of the ligaments which connect bone to bone in the wrist, of which there are many. It is a common wrist injury usually caused by a significant impact like a fall. There are different grades of a sprain, depending on their severity, but they can all cause significant pain. Read more about these grades and how the sprain can be treated.
A TFCC tear is an injury to the triangular fibrocartilage complex, found in the wrist, between the end of the ulna bone and the carpals. A tear can be caused by a specific incident or come on gradually, resulting in wrist pain and restricted wrist and hand function. This wrist injury can often be treated with a splint, although if it is too severe, surgery may be needed.
A broken wrist (or fractured wrist) is a fracture or break in the wrist end of either the radius and ulna forearm bones or any of the small carpal bones in the wrist. There are a number of different types of wrist fracture so an accurate diagnosis is essential. If you get a sudden wrist pain and any of the other following symptoms, you should get medical help as soon as possible.
The scaphoid is one of the small group of bones in the wrist called the carpal bones. It is the most common carpal bone to fracture among athletes and is often caused by falling onto an outstretched hand. Wrist pain and trouble gripping things are symptoms of this type of fracture, and medical advice should be sought for treatment.
A Colles fracture is a particular type of broken wrist which involves a break of the radius or forearm bone on the thumb side of the wrist. Deformity, severe pain and swelling would indicate this type of fracture, which is most often caused by a fall. Medical help is needed immediately to repair this wrist injury.
A carpal fracture is a break to one of the 8 small carpal bones in the wrist. A direct impact, such as a fall, usually causes this type of fracture, and symptoms include wrist pain, swelling and tenderness. As with all fractures, medical help should be sought. The wrist being in a cast is usually enough to repair the fracture, but surgery may be needed for more complex breaks.
A Smith's fracture is a break at the end of the radius bone, at the wrist and is often caused by a sudden impact. The fragment of fractured bone is displaced forwards to the palm side of the wrist, which causes swelling and pain to the area. You should try not to move the injured wrist afterwards, and medical help is needed as soon as possible to treat the fracture.
A dislocated wrist is a dislocation of any of the eight small bones called carpal bones which make up the wrist. A wrist dislocation will occur as a result of a traumatic event or fall onto the wrist. There is usually an obvious deformity along with acute wrist pain when dislocation occurs. Medical help is needed immediately, particularly as the ligaments and nerves can be seriously damaged.
A Bennett fracture is an injury to the base of the thumb joint, which is usually caused by a hard impact or trauma such as punching something hard or falling onto the hand with the thumb sticking out to the side. There will be swelling and considerable wrist pain located near the thumb. It is a serious wrist injury and will require surgery to avoid long-term complications.
A bruised wrist is also known as a wrist contusion. This occurs after an impact to the wrist which causes bleeding under the skin. The area will develop swelling and be very tender, which can be eased by applying ice. Medical treatment is often not needed, but it should be monitored for any worsening symptoms.
A Barton's Fracture is a fracture of the distal radius bone at the base of the thumb, and is also sometimes called a fracture dislocation. The fracture can happen on the back of the wrist or on the side of the palm, but in both cases the area will be painful and difficult to move. Medical assistance, and often surgery is needed to repair the wrist injury.
A Triquetral Fracture is a break of the Triquetral bone (sometimes called triquetrum) is one of the eight small carpal bones in the wrist. The Triquetral is the second most commonly fractured carpal, behind the Scaphoid. A sudden, direct impact is the most common cause of this fracture, which causes wrist pain on the side of the little finger. This fracture can also often occur alongside other wrist injuries.
A distal radial epiphysis injury is an injury to the growth plate at the wrist end of the radius bone in the forearm. It mostly affects young athletes and is most often caused by overuse. Resting and changing training accordingly can help, although activities that exacerbate wrist pain should be stopped.
The wrist contains a number of small bones called carpals. The hamate is a carpal bone on the outside (little finger side) of the wrist. It has a hook-shaped part which protrudes outwards and can under certain circumstances be fractured. With this injury, wrist pain occurs on the side of the little finger and the strength of grip can be reduced.
The distal radioulnar joint is the joint at the wrist, between the radius and the ulna, the two forearm bones. This injury is usually a subluxation, or a partial dislocation, although fractures of either bone can be involved. It is often caused by a direct impact like a fall, and medical help is needed immediately to check and treat the wrist injury.