Wrist Sprain

What Is It?

A sprain in the wrist is an injury to its ligaments, the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to one another inside a joint. Although most people speak of the wrist as a single joint between the forearm and hand, the wrist actually contains many joints that link 15 separate bones. The ligaments that connect these bones can be torn by any extreme twist, bend or impact that suddenly forces the wrist into a position beyond its normal range of motion.

There are three levels of sprain:

  • Mild (Grade I) — The wrist's ligaments are stretched or have microscopic tears.

  • Moderate (Grade II) — The damage is more severe, and some wrist ligaments may be partially torn.

  • Severe sprains (Grade III) — One or more wrist ligaments are entirely torn or torn away from where they normally attach to bones.

Sprains of the wrist are fairly rare in everyday life and in the workplace. Under certain weather conditions, such as during ice storms or after a snowfall, a wrist sprain is commonly caused by a fall in which a person lands on outstretched arm.

For athletes, sprains and other injuries to the wrist or hand account for 3% to 9% of all sports injuries. They are especially common among young males who play football, basketball or baseball. In addition, at least 36 Olympic events have been linked to an unusually high rate of wrist sprains, including roller hockey, baseball, boxing, basketball, volleyball, weightlifting, ice hockey, wrestling and judo.

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