Do you know there are over twenty joints in the wrist alone? These joints are held together by various different ligaments which makes a complex and delicate structure. There are many ways one can injure the wrist. Even a small slip or fall onto an outstretched hand can cause wrist sprain or fracture.
If you have injured your wrist due to FOOSH (fall on outstretched hand), you must have one question on your mind: Is my wrist sprained or broken? Here’s what you need to know about these injuries in order to get the right treatment at the best urgent care clinic.
Common Wrist Fractures & Sprains
Wrist injuries commonly occur among athletes or older adults who are prone to falls and trips. A sprain occurs when any unusual movement stretches or tear the ligaments and tendons in your wrist. In a fracture, that movement breaks one or more of the bones in your wrist.
Types of Fractures
- By far the most common type of wrist fracture is a distal radius fracture as it breaks the long forearm bone called the radius. The fracture occurs at the end of the radius bone.
- Another type of wrist fracture is a Scaphoid fracture, which is less common but more difficult to diagnose and takes ample time to heal due to poor supply of blood it receives. It affects one of the eight carpal bones in the wrist.
Grades of Sprains
- Grade I causes pain with minor scapholunate ligament damage.
- Grade II causes pain, severe ligament damage, and a sense of looseness to the joint.
- Grade III causes pain, a fully torn ligament with loss of function and severe looseness of the joint.
What Does a Wrist Sprain and Fracture Feel Like?
People often assume that the extent of the injury is directly related to the level of pain it causes. That’s why they tend to believe that a sprain would cause less pain than a fracture. However, sprains often cause severe pain and fractures can cause mild pain.
If you have wrist fracture, you are likely to feel a sharp pain that prevents your wrist movement while a wrist sprain injury causes a throbbing pain that may still allow you some range of motion. There are some wrist injury symptoms that are common for both fractures and sprains.
- Pain on moving the wrist
- Tenderness around the injured area
- Swelling in the wrist
- Bruising over the wrist
- Inability to pick up objects or weakness
Signs of a Wrist Fracture
Some obvious signs of a fracture are deformity of the wrist, consistent pain right around the injured area and with finger movement, and numbness at the fingertips.
Signs of a Wrist Sprain
A sprained wrist is often painful and swollen that can develop over several days and may last from a few days to six weeks. You may feel a popping or tear in the wrist.
Is It a Wrist Fracture or a Sprain?
Determining the fracture from a sprain is not that easy. Sometimes severe pain could be just a sprain while mild pain can be turned to a fracture. If you find any of these symptoms of a wrist injury, you should get a thorough physical examination from the best walk-in doctors for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
An x-ray performed by your family care doctor is the best way to diagnose whether the wrist is fractured or sprained. Sometimes, your urgent care doctor may also order additional imaging to see the injuries that cannot be seen on x-rays. Tests such as MRI scan, Arthroscopy or Arthrogram may also be needed to get better details of injuries.
Treatment & Recovery for a Wrist Injury
Regardless of the type of wrist injury, you should get immediate treatment until seeing your walk-in care doctor by following these steps:
- Rest your wrist for up to 48 hours.
- Use ice therapy on the injured area for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours.
- Elevate the injured wrist above the level of your heart.
- Immobilize the wrist using a splint or brace.
- Compress the wrist with a bandage.
Use these measures to treat sprained wrist and you may also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve to elevate pain and inflammation as recommended by your urgent care doctor. Grade III sprains with snapped ligament may require surgery to treat.
Treatment of broken wrist may depend on the type of fracture, age, and overall general health. A padded splint might be worn to realign the bones and a cast may be used to hold the fracture. Sometimes, plates, rods, and screws are used to fix severe fractures which may take months to heal. Your walk-in doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help the healing process.
Want to discuss the right option for your wrist injury treatment and recovery? Visit Artisans of Medicine, the best Urgent Care Clinic in Brooklyn, NYC today! With the hands-on experience and advanced specialization, our family care doctors can handle your entire treatment and recovery process with care.