When you have fallen
and injured your wrist, it is important to rest your arm.
If there is an
obvious deformity of the wrist or numbness in the hand, you should lay your
wrist across a soft pillow and seek medical attention immediately.
If there is no
obvious deformity and you are not in severe pain, you may want to take some
acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) and wait to see how the
wrist feels. Again, a soft pillow is a good temporary splint.
- Apply ice to the
area. Do not put ice directly on your skin. Wrap a bag of frozen vegetables
in a towel to create an icepack.
- If pain or other
symptoms do not go away within a day, you should see a doctor.
- If there is no
fracture seen on the x-ray, the doctor may diagnose a sprain. In cases where
there is tenderness in the anatomical snuffbox, the doctor may also suspect
there may be a fracture of the scaphoid that is not apparent on the x-rays.
- For a wrist sprain,
the doctor may decide to treat you with no splint, a Velcro wrist splint, or
plaster splint (like a cast). The decision about a splint will be based on
your level of pain, amount of swelling, restriction of movement, and concern
about an occult or hidden fracture. (An occult fracture is a fracture that is
so small that it does not appear on the initial x-rays.) If the doctor has
concerns about an occult fracture, the doctor may splint you and advise you to
have repeat x-rays at your doctor's office or with an orthopedist (bone
specialist) in 5-10 days.
- For minor sprains,
you will likely not be given a splint and told to limit activity appropriate
to your level of pain.
- For more severe
sprains, you will likely be given a Velcro wrist splint that you can take on
and off. Also you might be prescribed some form of pain medication. You
should make sure that you let the doctor know what other medications you are
taking and any allergies that you have.
- Most experts
recommend only the use of ice or cold therapy for sprains. Some doctors may
still recommend switching to heat therapy after 24-48 hours.
- Treatment of a
fracture (a broken bone) depends on the specific type of fracture found. If
you have a fracture, you may be treated by the doctor who sees you initially
or you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
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