Wrist Dislocations: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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When you think of dislocations, you might think of a shoulder or an elbow. However, did you know that wrists can also be dislocated? A dislocated wrist is a type of ligament injury that can be incredibly painful. It occurs when one or more of the small bones in your wrist, known as carpals, become displaced from their normal position. This article will provide you with information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments for a dislocated wrist.

What is a Wrist Dislocation? 

A dislocated wrist can be extremely painful and have a major impact on your daily life. It occurs when one or more of the carpal bones in your wrist become misaligned from their normal position. This is usually caused by a tear in the ligaments that hold them together. The lunate and scaphoid bones are often affected by these dislocations, along with the radius and ulna bones in your forearm. 

Types of Wrist Dislocations 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of dislocated wrists:

Anterior lunate dislocation: An anterior lunate dislocation occurs when the lunate bone in the wrist moves out of its normal position while the other bones remain in place. 

Perilunate dislocation: This type of injury involves more than just the lunate bone; it also affects the three ligaments that surround it. 

Galeazzi fracture: A Galeazzi fracture is another type of wrist dislocation that involves both a break in your radius bone as well as a dislocation of your radioulnar joint. 

Monteggia fracture: A Monteggia fracture involves both a break in your ulna bone as well as a dislocation at one end of your radius bone. 

Common Symptoms of a Dislocated Wrist  

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Depending on which type of dislocation you have, symptoms may vary slightly. However, common signs include pain, swelling and bruising around the area where you felt the injury. Your arm may also appear deformed due to misalignment of your wrist bones or joints. You may have pain when moving your thumb or hand and difficulty gripping objects due to weakened muscles surrounding the affected area. You may also experience numbness and tingling if nerve damage has occurred during the injury process. 

Understanding the Causes of a Dislocated Wrist 

High-Impact Sports:  One common cause of a dislocated wrist is trauma from high-impact sports such as football or hockey. The sudden force experienced in these sports can cause your hand and arm to twist in an unnatural manner, resulting in the displacement of your wrist joint. However, it's not just contact sports that may lead to this type of injury; practices like gymnastics and cheerleading also involve stunts and maneuvers that could require intricate coordination and balance, which makes them more susceptible to dislocations. 

Car Accidents:  Car accidents are another major factor when it comes to dislocations. Whether you're driving or riding as a passenger, any type of collision has the potential to cause enough force on your arm or hand for the ligaments surrounding your wrist joint to be stretched beyond their normal range, leading to bone displacement. 

Breaking Falls with Your Hands:  Breaking falls with your hands is something many people do without thinking about it, but this kind of action increases the risk of dislocating your wrists if done with too much force. 

Repetitive Motions: Repetitive strain on the ligaments due to continuous pressure on your wrist can also lead to dislocations. This kind of damage is usually caused by repetitive motions while working with equipment such as power tools. 

Other causes include degenerative joint diseases, such as arthritis, and even genetics. 

Diagnosing a Dislocated Wrist 

If you suspect you have a dislocated wrist, seeking medical treatment is essential. Untreated dislocations can lead to long-term complications such as arthritis or chronic instability of your wrist joint. A doctor will likely use X-rays to diagnose your injury since these imaging tests can help determine if there are any fractures present in addition to the dislocation. 

Treatment Options for Dislocation Injuries 

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Depending on the severity of your ligament damage, your doctor may be able to reduce or “pop” the dislocation back in place with some gentle manipulation. For more severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to repair any torn ligaments or tendons. Your doctor will likely recommend immobilizing the wrist in a splint or cast until it heals. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help manage pain and swelling during recovery. Physical therapy is often recommended following a dislocation injury to help restore full mobility and strength in the wrist joint.

Learn More: Splint, Brace, and Cast, Which is Best for Your Injury? 

Recovery Time for a Dislocated Wrist 

The recovery timeline for a dislocated wrist can vary significantly depending on how severe the injury is. In milder cases, reduction procedures may be enough, and you should notice an improvement within two or three months; however, if surgery is required, it may take six months or even a year until full recovery. 

Therapy also plays a major part in the rehabilitation process. Physical therapy helps to regain strength and flexibility in your wrist, which often means visiting a therapist or performing mild exercises on your own at home. Throughout the healing process, it's important to avoid putting any extra strain on the wrist while it recovers.

Learn More: 5 Safe Exercises to Try After Cast Removal 

Can a Dislocated Wrist Heal on Its Own?

While it's certainly possible for a dislocated wrist to heal on its own, it's generally not recommended. A dislocated wrist can cause pain and difficulty moving the affected hand and fingers due to trauma and misalignment of the bones. In addition, there may be considerable pain, swelling, stiffness, and long-term complications associated with this injury. 

Cast21 Orthopedic Alternative for Wrist Dislocations

Cast21 has been created with comfort in mind, an essential factor when you are recovering from a dislocated wrist. This 21st-century medical casting alternative offers a lightweight lattice sleeve that is filled with a quick-drying formula to create a strong yet comfortable defense around your wrist injury. Cast21 is also completely waterproof, so patients can take a shower or bath without having to worry about getting their cast wet. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Cast21, please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to answer any of your questions and help you get on the road to recovery!

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