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Is my wrist damaged or sprained? The right way to inform the distinction

Wrist accidents are extremely frequent. They will occur after a fall, or a forceful hit or sudden twisting of the wrist. For instance, you may slip on some ice in your driveway and fracture a bone when falling on an outstretched hand. Or your little hockey participant may block a objective and, sadly, rating a sprained wrist.

However when a wrist harm occurs, it could be onerous to inform how critical it’s. So, how will you inform the distinction between a break and a sprain?

Each sprains and breaks want quick care, however the remedies they want aren’t all the time the identical. Your wrist may have kind of consideration relying on the seriousness of the harm. Beneath, we share key variations between damaged and sprained wrists, and when to see a physician.

What’s the distinction between a damaged wrist and a sprained wrist?

The distinction between a break and a sprain is said to your anatomy. When you’ve got a sprain, it means you could have broken a number of ligaments – the robust bands of fibrous tissue that join your bones to one another.

When you’ve got a damaged wrist, it implies that a number of bones in your wrist have fractured or shattered. Your wrist joint is made up of eight small bones round your wrist (the carpal bones) and the tip of your forearm bones (the radius and ulna).

So, what’s a fractured wrist? A fracture is the medical time period for a damaged bone –   which implies a fractured wrist is similar as a damaged wrist.

How can I inform if I broke or sprained my wrist?

For starters, damaged wrists have a tendency to harm greater than sprained wrists. In case your wrist is damaged, you’ll seemingly really feel extreme ache. Sprains may cause some tenderness and ache, however generally they might not trigger a lot discomfort in any respect.

One other distinction is how a lot you may transfer your hand. With a sprain, you must have the ability to transfer your wrist in a traditional vary of movement (however will probably be painful). When you’ve got a damaged bone, you in all probability received’t have the ability to transfer your wrist very a lot.

Nonetheless, it may be onerous to inform the distinction between the accidents since each include bruising, swelling and hand weak spot. It’s additionally potential to have each a fracture and a sprain – and the ensuing signs – on the identical time. The one certain method to inform the distinction between a fracture and a sprain is to speak to a physician or hand specialist.

Fractured wrist signs vs. sprained wrist signs

Fracture Sprain
The sound your wrist makes on the time of harm Grinding, crunching or cracking Usually silent, generally there’s a popping sound
Hand energy after harm Hand will really feel weak Hand will really feel weak
Vary of movement after harm Solely in a position to transfer your wrist somewhat or in no way. Finger motion may be affected. Can transfer wrist (however will probably be uncomfortable to take action)
Swelling Gradual and delicate Fast and important
Wrist deformity after harm Wrist could look deformed or have an unnatural bend (but it surely’s additionally potential to have a fracture with out noticeable deformity) None

What ought to I do if I’ve injured my wrist?

One of many first issues is to determine if you’ll want to see a physician or when you can deal with your harm at dwelling.

In case your hand is numb or your wrist is bent in an unnatural method, head to orthopedic pressing care. In case you assume your wrist is sprained, it’s okay to attend to see a physician and deal with it at dwelling. But when your wrist doesn’t really feel higher in a day, make an appointment with a hand specialist or stroll in to one in every of our handy orthopedic pressing care places.

Unsure? Schedule an appointment with a hand specialist – they’ll have the ability to inform in case your wrist is sprained or damaged, and what you’ll want to do to maintain it.

How lengthy does it take for a sprained wrist to heal in comparison with a damaged wrist?

The extra ache you could have along with your harm, the longer it’ll take to heal. Sprained wrists can take anyplace from 2-10 weeks to heal.

Damaged wrists can take a couple of months (or extra) to heal absolutely – with most therapeutic taking place between 6-12 weeks.

The right way to care to your injured wrist at dwelling

When you’ve got a wrist harm, there are some things you must do to cut back ache and get on the trail to therapeutic. When you’ve got a gentle sprain, these dwelling remedies could also be all you’ll want to get better. However for breaks and extra critical sprains, you’ll seemingly want medical consideration.

  • Instantly – Cease doing something that causes you ache, and never only for the day. For instance, you probably have a sports-related wrist harm, you’ll want to remain on the sidelines till you’re healed. Additionally, maintain your jewellery off till the swelling is totally gone.
  • For the primary 24 hours – Apply ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. Additionally, wrap a compression bandage round your hand to assist with swelling.
  • For the primary three days – Elevate your hand as a lot as potential, together with in a single day. This reduces blood move to the hand and might lower swelling.

Medical remedies for damaged wrists and critical fractures

To diagnose your harm, your physician will do a bodily examination and probably take X-rays. Your physician may do different imaging checks similar to a CT scan or an MRI for extra info earlier than making a prognosis or recommending the remedies that may work finest for you. Attainable therapy choices embrace:

A solid or splint

Motion makes it more durable for bones to heal. A solid or splint holds your wrist in place in order that the damaged bone can heal. So, what’s the distinction between a solid and a splint, and the way have you learnt which you want?

In case your fracture isn’t too dangerous, a splint could also be sufficient to guard your wrist. Splints come prepared made and might normally be eliminated and adjusted. Casts present better help for extreme accidents. They’re customized made – normally from plaster or fiberglass – to suit your wrist and shield your harm.

How lengthy you’ll must put on a solid or a splint is determined by your harm. For a gentle fracture, it is perhaps per week or two. For extra critical accidents it is perhaps months.

Do you want a solid for a sprained wrist?

No, you don’t normally want a solid for a sprained wrist. It’s extra frequent for a physician to suggest you put on a splint for 2-10 days. After this era of relaxation, you must start transferring your wrist as a lot as potential (so long as it’s not painful). Motion brings fluids to and from the injured space – one thing that’s vital for therapeutic.

Nonetheless, there are occasions when a physician could suggest a solid for a sprain. For instance, if transferring the injured tendon or ligament causes extreme ache or the physician is worried that improper therapeutic may trigger everlasting modifications in wrist perform.

In case you put on a solid for a sprained wrist, it’s normally for 3-4 weeks, however it may be for so long as 8 weeks.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen sodium are nice for short-term ache aid. When you’ve got an open fracture and the bone has damaged the pores and skin, your physician will seemingly prescribe antibiotics.

Hand remedy

As your harm heals, you’ll have the ability to transfer it extra. At this level, you can begin some workout routines. Our hand therapists might help put collectively a tailor-made plan to assist your hand regain the energy and skills it had earlier than harm. As a part of remedy, your hand therapist could use ultrasound, guide remedy, kinesiology taping or neuromuscular re-education methods.

Surgical procedure

Your hand surgeon could must implant plates, screws or rods to maintain your bones in place whereas they heal. That is normally solely vital if:

  • Your bone broke in a number of locations
  • The bone has pushed via the pores and skin
  • The harm has broken or may harm the encircling ligaments, nerves, blood vessels or joints

You may additionally want surgical procedure in case your bone doesn’t heal correctly after a break.

Get the assist you want to your injured wrist

Wrists with delicate sprains can normally be handled at dwelling, however damaged bones and extreme fractures will heal finest with medical consideration.

When you’ve got signs that may very well be from a damaged or sprained wrist, make an appointment with a hand therapist or your major care physician. They’ll have the ability to inform in case your wrist is sprained or damaged, and what you’ll want to do to get higher.

In case your wrist is clearly damaged or your hand is numb, head to orthopedic pressing care to have it checked out immediately.


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