Signs You May Have a Torn Ligament in Your Wrist

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Have you ever wondered how we are able to move our wrists with ease? It’s thanks to a group of durable bands of connective tissue called ligaments. These ligaments keep our bones connected and supported, which makes it possible for us to do many things with our wrists. 

With so many components in play, it’s no surprise that the wrist is vulnerable to injury, especially in the form of ligament tears. Understanding what ligaments are and how they work is key to treating any pain or injury you may experience. This article will provide you with information on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments for a torn ligament in your wrist.

What is a Wrist Ligament? 

Wrist ligaments are bands of connective tissue that hold together the eight bones of the wrist known as carpals. These ligaments are also joined to other parts like the lower arm bones (ulna and radius) and the metacarpals which together form an intricate network of structures that help keep your joints flexible and prevent them from moving too far. 

What Is a Torn Ligament in the Wrist?

Torn wrist ligaments occur when wrist ligaments are stretched beyond their limit and tear, leading to swelling and instability in your wrist.

Common Wrist Ligament Tears

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Your wrists are one of the most important and versatile parts of your body, allowing you to perform a wide range of activities. When these ligaments become torn or strained, it can lead to pain and instability in the wrist joint. Here are the most common ligament tears to occur in the wrist: 

Scapho-Lunate Ligament Tear 

The scapho-lunate ligament is a strong band of connective tissue that connects the lunate and scaphoid bones in the wrist. It helps stabilize the hand while allowing for flexibility and movement. 

Luno-Triquetral Ligament Tear 

The luno-triquetral ligament connects the lunate bone with the triquetrum bone in the wrist. This ligament is responsible for providing stability to the wrist joint and allowing for smooth movement during activities such as writing or typing on a computer keyboard. 

TFCC Tears 

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is composed of several different structures including tendons and cartilage that help keep your wrist stable while providing flexibility during movements such as gripping objects or opening jars. 

What Are the Causes of a Torn Wrist Ligament?

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Wrist ligament injuries are common among athletes, especially those who engage in high-impact sports such as football. But what causes these painful injuries in the first place? Let’s take a look at the common causes of a torn wrist ligament. 

Repetitive Use of the Hand 

The most common cause of a torn wrist ligament is repetitive use of the hand. Athletes who engage in repetitive motions with their hands may be more prone to developing this type of injury due to overuse and strain on the joint. Swimmers, golfers, and gymnasts are especially at risk for this type of injury due to their frequent use of their hands during their respective sports. 

Acute Trauma from Torquing Motion 

Another possible cause of a torn wrist ligament is acute trauma from torquing motion caused by bad falls or blows to the hand or arm. This can occur when someone slips and falls on an outstretched hand or takes an unexpected blow to the arm while playing contact sports like football or rugby. The sudden force applied to the joint causes it to stretch beyond its natural limits, resulting in tissue damage and pain. 

Wear and Tear 

Wear and tear is another potential cause of a torn wrist ligament. Over time, our bodies naturally lose flexibility as we age; this can result in increased stress on our joints, which can eventually lead to wear and tear. It’s important for active people to take care of their bodies by stretching regularly and engaging in strengthening exercises that target the arms, wrists, and hands. 

Excessive Weight on Joints 

Finally, excessive or unbalanced weight on joints can contribute to a potentially serious tear in your wrist ligaments. This is particularly true for heavy weightlifters who may be pushing their bodies beyond its limits without proper support or rest periods between workout sessions. It’s important for any athlete—especially those lifting heavy weights—to ensure that they have proper form when lifting weights so that they don’t put too much strain on any one joint or muscle group. 

Symptoms of a Torn Ligament 

One of the most common signs of a torn wrist ligament is severe pain and swelling in the wrist, which can cause discomfort. Symptoms can extend to the fingers, with a reduced range of motion making it difficult for patients to perform normal activities. 

If left untreated, these issues can become worse over time. If you suspect that your wrist ligament has been damaged, consulting an expert can help you determine what care is necessary to repair it.

Diagnosing a Torn ligament in The Wrist 

Closeup look of a wrist xray
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If you think you have a torn ligament in your wrist, it’s important to seek medical attention right away so  your injury can be accurately diagnosed and treated properly. Here’s what to expect when getting your injury diagnosed:

A Thorough Medical Review 

The first step of diagnosing a torn wrist ligament is getting a thorough medical review from a qualified physician or surgeon. During this process, the patient's occupational history as well as their physical exam can also be evaluated and taken into consideration. This helps give the doctor an overall picture of the patient’s current state of health and any potential risk factors that may have led to the injury. 

X-Ray Images & MRI Scans 

Additionally, x-ray images and MRI scans are often used to take a closer and more detailed look at the patient's wrist. X-rays and MRI scans can effectively provide an image of bone fractures, carpals alignment, and ligament tears. These images help give doctors an even further idea of what is going on inside the wrist and whether or not there is a tear in one or more of the ligaments located within it.  

Arthrography & Arthrograms 

If need be, arthrography may also be performed with the help of injected arthrograms, and MRI scans to improve the accuracy of diagnosis for a torn ligament in the wrist. This procedure involves injecting contrast dye into specific joint cavities so that they can then be visualized on an MRI scan for further evaluation by physicians. 

Treatment for Torn Wrist Ligaments 

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Treatment for a torn ligament in the wrist is essential for preventing further injury. Without prompt treatment, the ligament's damaged tissue can place undue stress on surrounding nerves, bones, and muscles. 

Non-Surgical Treatment 

Non-surgical treatments for torn wrist ligaments can be quite effective and gentle on the body. Immobilization is an excellent way to reduce pain and swelling. After a few weeks, the range of motion is generally improved and grip strength enhanced. However, too much splint use can cause stiffness in the joint. To combat pain and inflammation, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are useful, and many physical therapy exercises can also promote the healing of the ligament.

Surgical Treatment 

Surgical intervention is an effective course of treatment for repairing a torn wrist ligament, particularly in severe cases or after non-surgical remedies have been ineffective. Doctors may recommend different repair techniques for wrist ligament injuries.

Arthroscopy: is the most common surgical procedure and involves the insertion of a small camera through a tiny incision made on the wrist. This allows hand surgeons to directly observe and address the bones and ligaments that need repair. 

Pinning repair: is a great option when the injury is still fresh. It involves inserting metallic pins to support the bones and can help ensure efficient healing of the tissues.

Reconstruction repair: is necessary if the injury is old and has been ruptured for over six months. It requires replacing the torn ligament with a tendon graft.

Fusion repair: is recommended in cases where arthritis affects the wrist joint and requires fusing together painful bones to solve the issue. 

Cast21 Orthopedic Alternative for Torn Wrist Ligament 

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Cast21 has been created with comfort in mind, an essential factor when you are recovering from a torn ligament. Our 21st-century alternative medical casting method 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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