It’s the normal Monday morning rush. You’ve dropped the kids off at school and you’re racing to the train station to catch the 08:35 to Workville. You roll into the car park at 08:22 and you’ve still got to queue for a ticket. Bah! Why did you lie in bed that extra 10 minutes this morning? Run, queue, ticket, platform (Wrong platform… Eeeek!), run to the correct platform, trip on the last step, hands out to break the fall, THUD! “Ouch… My wrist!” Oh, the humiliation.

Very quickly you realise something is wrong. You can’t move your wrist without pain and it’s starting to swell. You’ve missed your train… What a terrible morning! Now you’ve got to get this wrist seen to. Time to give us a call.

What has happened?

This type of event usually results in one of two outcomes. Worst case scenario, you’ve broken a bone in your wrist or forearm. A slightly less than worst case scenario is a wrist ligament sprain. Calling your physio first up is a good idea and may well save you a trip to the emergency department. Having said that, if your physio suspects you have fractured a bone after they have assessed you, they will refer you for a scan to confirm. For the purposes of this blog, you’ve been cleared of any fracture and have been left with a nasty sprain.

A ligament is a strong, dense, inelastic piece of tissue that joins bone to bone to form a joint. The strong and inflexible nature of this type of tissue is perfect for creating stability in a joint. Without them, our bones would just fall off each other, and we’d collapse into a big pile of skin and bone. During a Fall Onto an Out-Stretched Hand (or ‘FOOSH’), if the force of the impact is too great for the ligament to take, it will tear or ‘sprain’.

Typical signs and symptoms of this injury include:

  • Pain with wrist movement
  • Tenderness and heat over & around the sprain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

What should I do next?

Being under the care of your physio is a great option as we have the expertise to take you from your injury back to full fitness. The direction you go will depend on the severity of your sprain. A severe sprain with complete tearing of the ligament may require scans and a specialist opinion. A mild/moderate sprain can be completely managed under our care, with no need for outward referral.

The first stage of treatment will include having your wrist immobilised in a brace to allow inflammation to settle and healing of the sprained tissues to start. You will need to do your bit too — protect it at all costs and perform rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).  This will all be discussed in detail during your consultation.

After a period of immobilisation, the muscles which cross the wrist joint will have stiffened up and weakened. Over the coming weeks, we will aim to restore range of motion to the wrist, hand, elbow, and any other joints that have been affected by the injury. We may use massage, joint mobilisation and other techniques such as dry needling and taping. Another aim will be to restore stability to the wrist and strength and power to the muscles that help the wrist to function. Be prepared for some strength and flexibility exercises to do at home. These are necessary to further improve after your consult in the clinic. Please do your exercises, they will speed up your recovery and have you back to full fitness before you can say “scapholunate ligament” (that’s one of the commonly sprained ligaments in the wrist… More Anatomy lab next month!).

As part of the rehab process, you’ll be gradually performing tasks to get you using your wrist in everyday life again, like lifting a kettle, typing, holding weights, doing cartwheels and riding a zip-line. Regardless of your goal, be it wanting to take part in your sewing club or being a top gymnast, we’d love to play a leading role in your recovery process. If you’ve sprained your wrist and are looking for help, please call us on 9838 3030 and we’ll get you from A (injury) to B (champion of your world).