What are the Most Common Causes of a Sprained Wrist?

Matt Brady

The most common cause of a sprained wrist is the impact an individual's hand makes with the ground when breaking a fall. People instinctively thrust out their hands when tripping and falling, often making the wrist the first body part to absorb shock. When the wrist makes impact with the ground or other object, the ligaments can become stretched and even torn. Sprains occur when ligaments sustain such damage. Any activity that increases the risk of falling increases the risk of a sprained wrist. Most sports fall under this category as well as other athletic activities, such as running.

Tennis players may experience wrist injuries.
Tennis players may experience wrist injuries.

Accidents or collisions while playing sports are the most common cause of a sprained wrist. Athletic activities, such as soccer, football, tennis and skateboarding, greatly increase one's chance of falling, and therefore the chance of sustaining a wrist injury. When the wrist impacts with the ground, it's usually in such a way that the bottom of the palm hits first. This causes the hand to bend backward, which causes the ligaments in the wrist to stretch. As a result, the ligaments may be stretched to the point of minor damage, causing a Grade I sprain, or to the point of tearing, causing a Grade II or III sprain.

Slipping and falling can cause a sprained wrist.
Slipping and falling can cause a sprained wrist.

There are also plenty of non-sport related incidents in which people are more likely to fall and suffer a sprained wrist. For example, people often sprain their wrists from slipping and falling in icy weather. Tripping and falling down stairs is another common cause.

Skateboarding accidents can cause wrist injuries.
Skateboarding accidents can cause wrist injuries.

There can also be situations in which hitting the ground is not the cause of a sprained wrist. For example, a skier with poles might have fallen and sprained his or her wrist, but the sprain didn't come from impact with the ground. Instead, it came from the skier's hand becoming tangled up in the pole straps, causing the wrist to bend too far in the wrong direction. Likewise, if an individual incorrectly lifts a heavy object, the weight can cause the wrist to bend too far or incorrectly, resulting in a sprain.

When engaging in athletic activities, there are ways to protect against the possibility of a sprained wrist. In skateboarding and inline skating, for example, it's all but guaranteed that one's wrists will absorb falls on a regular basis. For that reason, participants in those activities often wear wrist guards for protection. Wrist guards are affordable accessories that strap on to the wrist and feature a hard, plastic barrier that provides separation between the wrist and the ground in the event of a fall.

A sprained wrist is possible in soccer when players routinely fall or are pushed to the ground.
A sprained wrist is possible in soccer when players routinely fall or are pushed to the ground.

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Discussion Comments

Raynbow

Though wearing wrist guards is one way to help protect yourself from wrist sprains, it is also a good idea to develop strength in your arms. This is especially important if you do activities on a regular basis that put you at risk for wrist sprains.

Weight training is the best type of exercise to strengthen your wrist muscles. This is easily done with hand weights, though you should always start this type of exercise program with the lightest weights available. Consult with a trainer or your doctor before beginning this type of exercise to be sure to develop the best type of weight lifting regimen for your needs.

Spotiche5

If you are athletic, it is a good idea to invest in several pairs of wrist guards to help prevent sprained wrists. If you have more than one pair, you will always have an extra pair handy when you need it.

You will not have to spend a lot of money to get this important protection. You can find wrist guards at your local pharmacy, retail store, or sports supply store. If you shop around, you should be able to fine them at a low price or even on sale.

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