A sprain is an injury to the ligaments or capsule that holds a joint together. There are no broken bones. Most sprains take about 3 to 6 weeks to heal. If it a severe sprain where the ligament is completely torn, it can take months to recover.
Most wrist sprains are treated with a splint, wrist brace, or elastic wrap for support. Severe sprains may require surgery.
Keep your arm elevated to reduce pain and swelling. This is very important during the first 48 hours.
Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every 3 to 6 hours. You should do this for the first 24 to 48 hours. You can make an ice pack by filling a plastic bag that seals at the top with ice cubes and then wrapping it with a thin towel. Continue to use ice packs for relief of pain and swelling as needed. As the ice melts, be careful to avoid getting your wrap, splint, or cast wet. After 48 hours, apply heat (warm shower or warm bath) for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day, or alternate ice and heat.
You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.
If you were given a splint or brace, wear it for the time advised by your doctor.
Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Any X-rays you had today don’t show any broken bones, breaks, or fractures. Sometimes fractures don’t show up on the first X-ray. Bruises and sprains can sometimes hurt as much as a fracture. These injuries can take time to heal completely. If your symptoms don’t improve or they get worse, talk with your doctor. You may need a repeat X-ray. If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Pain or swelling increases
Fingers or hand becomes cold, blue, numb, or tingly
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