Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children ring removal warning signs Prevention Outlook Underlying Cause Anatomy

Sprained Wrist Home Care

Home care for a wrist sprain includes:

  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Apply warm compresses after 2 days for stiffness.
  • Elevate the wrist above the heart for 24 hours.
  • Rest:
    • Use an elastic wrap on the wrist.
    • Use a wrist splint as directed.
    • Avoid activities that cause pain.
    • Slowly increase use of the wrist as long as there is no pain.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.
  • With some wrist injuries you may wish to wear a sling for comfort:
    • Long term immobilization in a sling can lead to frozen shoulder.
    • If you wear a shoulder sling for longer than two weeks make sure you perform shoulder range of motion exercises twice a day to avoid frozen shoulder.
  • Immobilization with a cast or splint
  • Perform gentle stretching exercises twice a day.

Sprained Wrist Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with wrist sprain include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Sprained Wrist Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain and fever in children with wrist sprain include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Sprained Wrist Ring Removal

Remove rings immediately after a wrist sprain, because it is difficult to remove the ring if the finger becomes swollen. Sometimes, the finger becomes so swollen that the ring must be removed with a ring cutter. The following will help you remove a ring from a swollen finger.

Ring Removal

  • Elevate the finger above the heart and apply a cold compress for 15-20 minutes.
  • Lubricate the ring:
    • Apply soapy water to the ring.
  • Ask another person to pull the skin tightly away from the ring, and then try to twist the ring off gently.
    • Stop if this causes pain or skin damage.
  • If this does not work, loop a piece of thin string or ribbon under the ring on both sides of the finger. Ask another person to grab the ends of both strings. Have the person pull equally on the ends of each string, while you gently twist the ring.

Reducing Finger Swelling
In order to reduce finger swelling, you may wrap a wide rubber band around the finger. Start at the tip of the finger and wrap towards the ring. Overlap the edges of the rubber band as you wrap the finger. After 5 minutes, remove the rubber band and try to remove the ring.

Do not wrap the finger with a rubber band of you have:

Seek medical care immediately for:

Sprained Wrist Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have wrist sprain and any of the following:

Continue to Sprained Wrist Prevention

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sprained Wrist References
  1. De Schrijver F, De Smet L. Fracture of the hook of the hamate, often misdiagnosed as "wrist sprain". J Emerg Med. 2001 Jan;20(1):47-51. [11165838]
  2. Haims AH, Moore AE, Schweitzer ME, Morrison WB, Deely D, Culp RW, Forman HP. MRI in the diagnosis of cartilage injury in the wrist. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2004 May;182(5):1267-70. [15100130]
  3. Musharafieh RS, Macari G. Salter-Harris I fractures of the distal radius misdiagnosed as wrist sprain. J Emerg Med. 2000 Oct;19(3):265-70. [11033273]
  4. Staebler MP, Moore DC, Akelman E, Weiss AP, Fadale PD, Crisco JJ 3rd. The effect of wrist guards on bone strain in the distal forearm. Am J Sports Med. 1999 Jul-Aug;27(4):500-6. [10424221]
  5. Wollman S. Patient education series. Sprains and strains. Nursing. 2003 Sep;33(9):47. [14501515]
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