Wrist Sprains And Dislocations


Wrist sprains or dislocations are very common for men and women, especially for those involved in sports. While a wrist sprain is actually a form of ligament injury, a dislocated wrist indicates that the bones have become misaligned. Without correction, these relatively minor injuries can continue to cause pain and discomfort well into the future.

Wrist sprains happen very easily, especially after a fall in which the wrist ends up getting bent backwards. When this happens, the ligaments that connect the bones to each other are stretched too far. Wrist sprains are broken into different grades of severity:


  • Grade 1: Mild sprain. The ligaments have been stretched, but they are not torn.

  • Grade 2: Moderate sprain. Some of the ligaments are torn, and some functionality of the wrist may be lost.

  • Grade 3: Severe sprain. At least one ligament has been completely torn. In some cases, the ligament may pull a piece of bone off in the force of the tear. A Grade 3 sprain may require surgery.  This can be done via an open approach, or by wrist arthroscopy.  


The symptoms of mild to moderate wrist sprain include swelling, bruising, persistent pain and tenderness, and a “popping” sensation during wrist motion; sometimes the skin may feel warm to the touch. For more serious symptoms, an X-ray may be recommended to confirm diagnosis.


For Grade 1 sprains the RICE treatment is the most common approach: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Ice packs should be applied in 20 minute intervals, and an elastic bandage aids with compression. Keeping the wrist above the heart helps to reduce any swelling. It’s best to rest the wrist for a day or two.

Grade 2 sprains often require a customized splint to hold the joint steady and promote healing. This is worn for a week or more depending on how healing progresses.


Grade 3 sprains may require surgery for ligament repair. If the ligament is torn, it needs to be reconnected. If the ligament injury caused a wrist bone fracture severe enough to dislodge bone fragments, surgery may be needed in this case as well.

Understanding Wrist Sprains and Dislocations



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Wrist dislocations are more serious than a sprain. When the wrist is dislocated, one or more of the bones inside the wrist has moved out of alignment, and will need to be moved back into place. This is called reduction.


In some cases, reduction can be accomplished externally with sedation. However, for more severe dislocation, surgery may be necessary to correctly align the wrist bones again. The goal of reduction is to ease the pain associated with dislocation as well as restore original alignment and ensure full rotation and function.

Recovery and Results

Wrist sprains typically heal well, with minimal or no long-term symptoms. Healing can often take several weeks, but recovery is usually excellent.

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The staff at Bel Air Center for Plastic and Hand are always happy to address any of your questions.  We understand that every patient is unique, and specifically aim to cater our care to reflect our patients' needs.  



Bel Air South Professional Center

2012 South Tollgate Road, Suite 100

Bel Air, MD 21015

Ramon A. DeJesus, M.D., FACS

Mathew A. Thomas, M.D.

Eric Davies, PA-C

Rachel Pigott, OT, CHT

Stefanie Stevenson, OT, CHT

Affiliated with:

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health

University of Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

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