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How Do I Treat a Torn Wrist Ligament?

Wrist pain and stiffness may be a sign of a torn wrist ligament.
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  • Written By: Erica Stratton
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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Treating a torn wrist ligament isn't something that can be done at home. Only sprains can be treated without the help of a doctor. Torn ligaments may require surgery to the bones or wrist ligament in order to decrease pain and restore function.

A torn wrist ligament, unlike a sprain, can cause progressive joint problems if it isn't treated properly. Since they have the same symptoms of swelling and bruising that are characteristic of a regular sprain, torn ligaments may only be treated at home with ice packs before normal activities are resumed. A few weeks after, when the wrist stiffens and the pain becomes continual, the actual extent of the injury become obvious. There might also be a snapping or clicking noise whenever the wrist is moved.

Treatment of a suspected torn wrist ligament begins with a physician's examination. In order to see the extent of the damage, an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will be taken of the wrist. If this does not result in a clear image, an arthroscope, or tiny camera, may be inserted into the wrist joint. Your doctor will also ask you about your previous health history and any injuries you may have had in the same joint.

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The treatment used for a ligament tear in the wrist depends on the age of the injury. If your injury was diagnosed immediately and isn't too severe, you may simply be put in a cast for a few weeks to hold the limb immobile until it heals. If it is so severe that some of the bones in the wrist are no longer being held in place, pins may be needed to secure them until the ligament heals—surgery may be needed to place the pins.

If a torn wrist ligament isn't diagnosed for a much longer period, such as six months after the initial injury, a tendon graft may be needed to replace the damaged tissue. A piece of tendon will often be taken from the same wrist in order to perform this surgery. Torn ligaments that have remained untreated for years will have bone damage from only being held loosely by the damaged ligament, which can cause arthritis. Since ligaments cannot be replaced in an older injury, bones that are rubbing painfully against each other may need to be fused together to stop the pain, which may result in a partial loss of movement in the wrist.

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anon329959
Post 6

I have three torn ligaments in my wrist, so I can't get a graft, and on top of that, I had to wait four years and go through surgery before I learned that was what was wrong with my wrist. At this point it is too late for me to have any form of repair. My only option is to deal with the pain and possibly in the future, get the wrist fusion. If you think, even for a second that you have a torn ligament, get it checked out ASAP.

anon315629
Post 5

You have a sprained wrist and the clicking is normal. To heal it, just wrap it with a band and don't use it until it recovers.

anon284716
Post 4

I sprained my wrist like two months ago and it keeps clicking when I'm doing everyday things. I also can't lift really heavy objects because it will hurt. Is this a torn wrist ligament? Please help.

anon258553
Post 3

Just had this surgery last week and it's really not so bad. I went for two years before I had my ligament repaired. Just keep it elevated and the swelling will go down fast. You also have to keep it up while you sleep. I had my surgery five days ago and I have very little pain and swelling!

popcorn
Post 2

Has anyone ever had a surgery to repair a torn wrist ligament? How was your recovery time, and did you find that your wrist went back to normal mobility after the surgery? Also, was it a painful recovery or fairly easy?

I need to have a torn wrist ligament repaired and I am worried about how long it will take me to get better and if I will be able to use my wrist normally again.

Surgery has always been a frightening prospect for me. If you have any tips on how to make the aftercare for your torn wrist ligament better let me know.

wander
Post 1

I have had a few sprained wrists in my life and let me tell you, having a torn wrist ligament is quite a bit more painful, and from my experience swelled a lot more. I must admit, I originally thought my injury was just a really bad sprain, but when the swelling didn't go down after a few days and it still hurt horribly I gave up trying to make it better myself and went to a doctor.

I was lucky enough just to need a cast for a few weeks, but it was still a hassle navigating with it on. I suggest that if you sprain your wrist and it feels more off than usual, or has major swelling problems you go see your doctor. It is better to endure the cast than to have to go through surgery.

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