As with other orthopedic injuries, a severe wrist injury requires immediate evaluation and treatment. For minor injuries, the suggested treatment is based on a formula called R.I.C.E. R.I.C.E. is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Keep in mind that if your injury affects the normal function of your wrist, or does not look normal after 24 to 48 hours, you should contact your provider. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain or strain and a fracture, and so your provider’s evaluation will be important to appropriate treatment.
After an examination by your provider, you may be given a splint or a cast, depending on the severity of the injury. In many cases, your provider may choose to use a splint at first, until the swelling has decreased. After the swelling has decreased, a cast may be required, especially if you’ve suffered a fracture. In severe cases, surgery may be required to place the bones of your wrist into proper alignment.
For repetitive motion injuries, your provider may suggest a brace for your wrist, and in some cases, surgery may be required.
Regardless of what treatment you receive immediately after a trauma or for a repetitive motion injury, physical therapy often plays an important role in your recovery.
Traumatic injuries usually involve rehabilitation to strengthen the wrist as it recovers from a sprain or fracture. With repetitive motion injuries, a long-range plan of treatment is often developed to alleviate muscle and joint stress. It is important to address the underlying cause of the repetitive motion injury, such as analyzing the work environment.
A physical therapist can help you regain function in your wrist as quickly as possible through a combination of manual techniques such as exercise, massage and mobilization. Physical therapists emphasize the need to get the affected area moving as quickly as is safe after an injury. The longer a joint remains immobile, the greater the possibility that a permanent decrease in mobility may result.