Do I Need a Cast for a Sprained Wrist?

Doctor examining patient's wrist
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When you break a bone, it's usually pretty clear that you need to see a doctor. But what about when you sprain your wrist? Is it serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER? And if so, do you need a cast? In this blog post, we will discuss what a wrist sprain is, the symptoms of a wrist sprain, and how to treat a wrist sprain. We will also discuss the signs that indicate you may need a cast for your sprained wrist.

What Is a Wrist Sprain?

A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments in your wrist. Ligaments are the webbing that connects one bone to another and helps to stabilize your joints. A sprain can range from a mild stretching of the ligament to a complete tear. 

Read More: Complete Guide to Common Wrist Fractures

What Causes Wrist Sprains?

Wrist sprains are common injuries. They can occur due to a fall, direct blow to the wrist, or sudden twisting motion of the wrist. Wrist sprains can happen to anyone, but they're most common in athletes and people who participate in activities that put stress on the wrist, such as gymnastics, tennis, and weightlifting. 

Symptoms of Wrist Sprains

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Symptoms of a wrist sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty using the affected hand. A sprained wrist can also cause numbness and tingling in the fingers. In some cases, you may also feel like your wrist is weak or unstable. If you think you have a wrist sprain, it's important to see your doctor so that you can get an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. 

Types of Wrist Sprains

There are three grades of wrist sprains that depend on on the severity of the injury:

Grade I: A Grade I wrist sprain is a stretch or micro tear in the ligament. You may have some pain and swelling, but you'll still be able to move your hand and fingers. 

Grade II: A Grade II wrist sprain is a partial tear of the ligament. You'll have more pain and swelling than with a Grade II sprain, and you may not be able to fully move your hand or fingers. 

Grade III: A Grade III wrist sprain is a complete tear of the ligament. You'll have significant pain and swelling, and you may not be able to move your hand or fingers at all. Severe sprains often require surgery to repair the damage.

Diagnosing Wrist Sprains

If you think you have sprained your wrist, it's important to see a doctor or other healthcare provider right away, so they can diagnose the injury and develop a treatment plan. They will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. They will also do a physical examination of your wrist, hand, and arm. X-rays may be ordered to rule out other injuries such as fractures. 

Treatment for Wrist Sprains

Nurse applying bandage to patient's broken wrist
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The good news is that most wrist sprains will heal with time and proper care. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and swelling and protecting the joint while it heals. Initial treatment for a wrist sprain usually involves:

  • Rest: The best thing you can do for a wrist sprain is to rest it. This means avoiding any activities that put stress on your wrist, such as lifting weights or playing sports.
  • Ice: Applying ice to your wrist for 20 minutes at a time can help to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: Wrapping your wrist in an elastic bandage can help to compress the area and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keeping your wrist elevated above heart level will also help to reduce swelling.
  • Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to relieve pain associated with a wrist sprain.
  • Splint or Cast: In some cases, your doctor may recommend wearing a cast for several weeks to immobilize your wrist and allow it to heal properly.
  • Strengthening exercises: stretching and strength training exercises can help to improve the range of motion and strength in the wrist

When to See a Doctor for Wrist Sprain Treatment

In most cases, you won't need to see a doctor for treatment of a minor wrist sprain because home care measures are usually all that's needed for healing. However, it's important to see your doctor if you have severe pain, bruising, or deformity of the affected hand or wrist, or if you can't use the affected hand or wrist normally. You should also see your doctor if you think you may have broken any bones in your hand or wrist.

Non-surgical Treatment

If you have a mild wrist sprain, your doctor may recommend that you treat it with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). You should also avoid putting any extra weight or stress on your injured wrist. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain medication or a splint, brace, or cast to help stabilize your wrist and prevent further injury. 

Surgical Treatment

If you have a more severe wrist sprain, you may require surgery to repair the damage. Surgery is typically only recommended if you have completely torn one or more ligaments in your wrist or if you have sustained other damage to the bones or tendons in your wrist. During surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in your wrist and then use stitches or other fixation devices to repair the torn ligaments or damaged tendons.

How Do I Know If I Need a Cast for My Wrist Sprain?

Adult female wearing a fiberglass cast for wrist fracture
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A cast may be necessary if the sprain is severe enough that even slight movement of the injured ligaments causes pain, permanent changes to wrist function, or an inability to bear weight on the wrist. Your doctor will be able to determine if you need a cast based on the severity of your injury. 

How Long Does a Sprained Wrist Need to Be in a Cast?

Typically, you will only need to wear a splint or cast for 3-4 weeks. However, if you have a more severe sprain, you may need to wear your splint or cast for up to 8 weeks. If your doctor recommends wearing a splint or cast, it is important to follow their instructions and wear it as directed. Failure to do so could result in further injury or delay in healing.

Read More: Is a Splint As Good As a Cast? 

Cast21 Promises Relief for Wrist Sprains

Young boy wearing Cast21 for wrist fracture playing at the beach

If you have ever suffered a wrist sprain, you know how painful and debilitating it can be. Cast21's new orthopedic cast alternative is made of a lightweight material that is comfortable to wear and provides superior support over splints and braces. The material is designed to help stabilize the joint and promote healing, making it an ideal treatment for wrist sprains, broken bones, and other injuries.

The breathable design helps to keep you cool and comfortable, even during physical activity, while the contoured shape ensures a snug and secure fit. The cast is also water-resistant, so you can shower and swim without worrying about damaging the product. And when it's time to remove the it, the process is quick and easy, with no need for messy plaster or saws. If you have recently suffered a wrist sprain, ask your orthopedic doctor whether Cast21 could be right for you. 

Read More: What is Cast21? 

Recovery Time for a Sprained Wrist

The severity of your wrist sprain will determine how long it takes to recover. 

Most people can expect to make a full recovery within 2-10 weeks. For grade III wrist sprains where the ligament is completely torn, you will most likely need to see a physiotherapist to help you regain range of motion and strength in your wrist. 

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