Wrist injuries are common. A wrist does not have to be fractured in order to experience pain. It is composed of quite a number of ligaments, cartilages, and small bones that all work together to make the hand and fingers perform efficiently.
It has always been said that the wrist is complicated because every small bone is connected to another. All these bones are protected by what is called the articular cartilage which is a smooth and slippery substance that prevents damage to the bones.
The ligaments are responsible for connecting each of the small wrist bones to each other. Hence, even if just one of the ligaments get injured, everything will be affected soon enough which eventually manifests as pain. If left untreated, this could lead to arthritis and other medical conditions to the wrist that could be more problematic.
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- 1 How is the Wrist Commonly Injured?
- 2 The Most Common Wrist Injuries
- 3 The Different Types of Wrist Supports
How is the Wrist Commonly Injured?
Given that the wrist is a joint in itself, it is very much susceptible to injury. This susceptibility is further increased by the fact that the wrist is commonly used and easy to overuse. We need our hands to function in our day-to-day living so the only time it probably gets a chance to rest is during our sleep. Even then, most of us sleep unknowingly with the hands under a pillow which could also cause further damage.
As per medical experts, the most common wrist injury is when someone slips and falls on an outstretched hand. Pain depends on how strong your bones and ligaments are and of course, the impact of the injury. The bad thing about wrist injuries is that once damage takes place in the articular cartilage (which could be due to overuse or misuse), it could lead to more serious medical conditions because it cannot fully heal by itself.
When such a thing happens, the wrist and hand mechanism goes out of balance. You might feel unusual but it would still be easy to disregard it. However, the damage inside would not stop and thus, the all-of-a-sudden painful wrist that no longer can be ignored.
Wrist injuries are classified into two categories:
This is usually due to traumatic injuries which normally happen to athletes or those who actively use their hands in contact sports such as hockey, football, and wrestling. The most common acute wrist injuries are joint dislocations, muscle strains, sprains, broken bones, tendon inflammation, and ligament tears.
This category is where overuse falls into. These injuries happen as a result of repetitive motions as would be seen in those who play golf, tennis, and basketball. They are stress-induced and can therefore lead to tendon irritation and inflammation, nerve injury, dislocation, and overuse stress fractures.
The Most Common Wrist Injuries
Even the simplest and shortest pain sensation in your wrist must never be ignored. Remember that pain is the number one indication of something off with any given part of the body. Wrist pain can be as common as a sprain or a start of something as severe as carpal tunnel syndrome.
To educate you more, here are the most common wrist injuries, their symptoms, how they should be handled and what can be done to prevent it.
This is probably the most common among the wrist injuries. It is a direct injury to the ligament as a result from either being outstretched or torn. This usually happens when someone falls down on an outstretched hand. Thus, one experiences almost immediate pain, swelling, and bruising or discoloration.
Wrist sprains are divided into three degrees:
- Grade 1: This is the mildest among the degrees and means that the ligaments are stretched excessively but not torn.
- Grade 2: This brings moderate pain with or without loss of function depending on the severity of the tear. This is usually seen and experienced in partial ligament tears.
- Grade 3: This comes with the most severe pain signifying that a ligament has been completely torn and thus, may need surgical intervention. This also commonly presents with an avulsion fracture.
Treatment for wrist sprains is RICE – that stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate – along with NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. If the sprain is moderate, it will have to be immobilized with a brace, splints, or slings for one or more weeks but if it is severe, surgery might be warranted with physical therapy and braces afterwards.
Wrist Bone Fracture
If you fell on an outstretched hand with your hand striking a hard floor that almost instantly manifests pain and tenderness at the wrist and base of the thumb, it could be a wrist bone fracture and this warrants medical attention within 48 hours.
Once proven under imaging studies that a wrist bone fracture is present, a brace or a cast must be worn until fully healed.
Wrist Ligament Tear
This is a result of impact or twisting of the wrist. One is to experience pain whenever he/she tries to grip. Physical evaluation is needed in order to recommend the proper brace and/or cast and prevent long-term problems.
This is the most common result of repetitive movement that overcomes the strength of the bones, and thus, leads to small stress fractures. Physical evaluation, diagnostic tests, and brace/casts will be recommended for mild to moderate cases. In severe ones, surgery or bone growth simulator may be needed.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If your work entails you to type at least 1000 words a day, then you are probably a candidate for this. This is a medical condition that results from overuse of the wrist area or the carpal tunnel where the median nerve passes in order to deliver proper sensation to the fingers. Do your fingers feel numb and there is on and off pain or a restlessness sensation in your wrist? Then you better have your wrist checked for this.
There also are some medical conditions that make carpal tunnel syndrome (link) more possible like hypothyroidism, obesity, pregnancy, arthritis, diabetes, and wrist trauma. Treatment usually consists of resting the affected hand and wearing a splint or a brace to limit mobility if at all possible.
The Different Types of Wrist Supports
Wrist braces are especially helpful in providing relief, supporting the joint, and keeping the injured wrist structures in place to pave way for healing and at the same time prevent any further injuries. There are wrist braces that are custom made while many can be readily bought at drugstores and even at local grocery stores.
These are usually worn for a time length of four to six weeks which should be enough for the bones and soft tissues to heal well. Let us get to know more about the different types of wrist supports today:
This is commonly prescribed by medical professionals to those suffering mild to moderate pain from tendinitis and ligament injuries to the wrist. They are also used to help align the wrist in its original position after a cast is removed.
This type of wrist support usually has a hole for the thumb so that the fingers are free to move. They are often made from cloth with metal support. Another type is the thermoplastic cock-up splint which covers half of the circumference on the palm side. This is specifically used for boxer’s fracture, wrist sprain/strain, soft tissue injury, distal radial and ulnar fracture, wrist contracture, and general wrist pain.
This is a brace especially designed for all types of wrist injuries. Such are carefully designed to provide support to the wrist and thumb as it recovers from lesions, sprains, and tendinitis.
The best choice for a wrist brace would be the one made from breathable material to keep the wearer ultimately comfortable during the healing process. It would also be the ideal for it to have Velcro straps and removable sport bar for a more molded fit and increased versatility.
Computer Wrist Band
Since wrist injuries have tremendously increased over the recent years as more and more people do desk jobs spending more than eight hours a day in front of a computer, wrist support manufacturers came up with a computer wrist band which serve as the wrist’s protection from overuse and repetitive injuries.
This should purposely prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist injuries from progressing. More than that, it also alleviates the stresses and strains from the wrist and fingers. These are commonly used for sprains, strains, tendonitis, repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and weak and painful wrists.
Adjustable Wrist Wrap
This type of wrist support provides firm, adjustable support to relieve pain which is caused possibly by a sprain and also reduced risk of additional wrist injuries in the future.
The great thing about this is the easy and comfortable fitting as it is usually made from mesh materials that provide just the right amount of support yet ensures stabilization especially during hand activities.
This is usually a lightweight and water resistant wrist brace that is highly recommended after wrist injuries or severe wrist fractures. Orthopedists today prefer this over plaster casts because patients find it more comfortable to use.
In addition, these still provide a perfect custom fit as it reduces wrist swelling which is common especially after wrist surgery. A great wrist orthosis is breathable and can be applied quickly, easily, and comfortably.
The type of brace or support perfect for your wrist will depend on what you injury you have sustained and the structures damaged. If you feel even the slightest tinge of pain in your wrist, have it checked right away. As health experts always say, it is way easier to do preventative measures than corrective or rehabilitative measures after the damage has been done.