Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Wrist Sprain

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Wrist Sprain

(Sprain, Wrist)


A wrist sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments of the wrist. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones to each other.

Wrist Sprain.

Nucleus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=73497349si55551232.jpgsi55551232.jpgNULLjpgsi55551232.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551232.jpgNULL13NULL2008-11-07254390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


A wrist sprain is caused by trauma. The most common way this happens is by falling on an outstretched hand.

Risk Factors

Playing sports may raise the risk of a sprain.


Problems may be:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Bruising
  • Problems moving the wrist


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. Questions will also be asked about how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the wrist.

It can be hard to tell a wrist sprain from a fracture or dislocation of one of the small wrist bones. Pictures of the wrist may be taken. This can be done with:


Treatment will depend on the joint involved and how much it is injured. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as rest, ice, a compression bandage, and raising the wrist to ease pain and swelling
  • Over the counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen
  • A brace or cast to keep the wrist still as it heals
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the wrist and improve movement

Some people may need surgery to repair a ligament that is torn. This is not common.


The risk of a wrist sprain may be lowered by:

  • Using the right safety gear and techniques when playing sports
  • Stretching and strengthening the ligaments that support the wrist




  • Overview of Sprains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries/overview-of-sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries.
  • Sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases—National Institutes of Health website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sprains-and-strains.
  • Topical NSAIDs. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/topical-nsaids.
  • Wrist sprains. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/wrist-sprains.


  • Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.