Guide to wrist ligament tears
In connecting the hands to the arms, the wrists enable us to carry out all of the intricate mechanics we require of the hands on a daily basis. To do this, the wrists must be extremely flexible, which is one of the reasons why injuries such as wrist ligament tears can be so common. When a tear occurs to one or more of the ligaments in the wrist, it can be very painful and have a negative effect on our ability to carry out basic activities. Fortunately, there are effective treatments that can help recovery.
Learning more about this injury can help patients dealing with wrist ligament tears be more involved with treatment, which is why USA Spine Care is sharing this informative overview. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
What causes wrist ligament tears
Throughout the body, the ligaments are soft tissue that connect bones to bones in the joints, allowing for the required combination of stability and flexibility. While ligaments are designed to be very strong and withstand a high degree of wear and tear, they are still prone to injury if they undergo too much stress.
In the wrist, if the wrists are stretched too far out of their normal range of motion they can develop an injury known as a sprain. In more severe cases, the ligaments can actually become torn if there is too much force placed on the wrist or if a minor sprain does not receive timely care. Frequent causes of wrist ligament tears include:
- Falling directly onto the hand when it is outstretched
- A forceful push or pull on the wrist
- Sports-related injuries
- Repetitive motion sprains that are allowed to worsen
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of a wrist ligament tear in order to receive prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Common symptoms of a wrist ligament tear
In many cases, the symptoms of a wrist ligament tear are prominent, but in others it may be harder to recognize. This is why seeking professional care is important to lower the risk of any wrist injury worsening. Symptoms of a wrist ligament tear to watch out for include:
- Localized pain in the wrist
- Limited range of motion
- Visible swelling
Any person experiencing these symptoms persistently, particularly after an injury, should see a qualified physician for diagnosis.
How doctors diagnose a wrist ligament tear
Diagnosing wrist pain and injuries like wrist ligament tears typically involve the following steps:
- Discussion of symptoms and activities that may have led to injury
- Review of medical history and any previous injuries
- Hands-on examination to check range of motion and identify tender or painful areas
- Diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or MRI to positively identify a tear or rule out other conditions
If a doctor determines a wrist ligament tear to be the underlying cause of injury, conservative treatments are generally attempted first.
Conservative wrist ligament tear treatments
In all but the most severe cases, a wrist ligament tear is treated without the need for surgery. Smaller tears should be able to heal on their own with time, with the primary goal of treatment being to limit excessive wrist motion and manage symptoms. Common treatments include:
- Rest and changes to daily activity to limit wrist movement
- Splinting or bracing to stabilize the wrist
- Over-the-counter medication to relieve pain and inflammation
- Cold compression, such as an ice pack, to relieve swelling and numb the area
In more severe cases, physical therapy may be needed to mobilize soft tissue and develop better wrist biomechanics.
When to consider surgery for a wrist ligament tear
For the most severe tears and tears that may not be healing properly, there are a range of surgical techniques that surgeons utilize. Wrist ligament tear surgery can involve the surgeon carefully reattaching the ligament to the bone or in other cases grafting muscle tendon to serve as a replacement.
Wrist ligament tear surgery can very often be performed at an outpatient surgery center thanks to the development of minimally invasive techniques and microsurgical technology. The recovery period typically takes a few weeks for the ligament to heal followed by a rehabilitation period where the patient undergoes physical therapy to carefully strengthen and mobilize the wrist.
Reach out to the experts at USA Spine Care
If you’re dealing with wrist pain and mobility problems related to a wrist injury such as a ligament tear, it is important to take a proactive approach to treatment. At our state-of-the-art centers, USA Spine Care helps patients of all ages and activity levels overcome pain and get back to a better quality of life. To learn more, contact our caring and dedicated team today.
Call toll free 1- 866-249-1627