Wrist Injury: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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A wrist injury refers to damage to any of the structures of the wrist, caused due to injury. Soft tissue injuries to the wrist include lacerations, puncture wounds, stab wounds and abrasions

A person with a wrist injury may have wrist pain, wrist swelling and wrist tenderness. A severe wrist injury may also result in a wrist deformity.

Treatment for wrist injury depends on the severity of the damage caused. General treatment usually includes rest, cold compresses, elevations and immobilization with a splint or cast. Surgery is required for severe wrist wrist injuryinjuries.

Important: the material posted on this page on wrist injuries and associated symptoms, signs, causes and treatment is for learning and information purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage wrist injuries and other skeletal and muscular emergencies enrol in St Mark James first aid classes.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of wrist injury include:

  • Wrist pain
  • Wrist swelling
  • Wrist tenderness
  • Wrist bruising
  • Wrist abrasion
  • Wrist joint stiffness
  • Wrist lacerations
  • Wrist puncture wounds

Symptoms of severe wrist injury may include:

  • Severe wrist pain
  • Severe wrist swelling
  • Sever wrist tenderness
  • Hand numbness
  • Hand weakness
  • Wrist deformity


Causes of wrist injury include:

  • Falls
  • Altercations
  • Sports injuries
  • Automobile injuries
  • Occupational injuries


Types of wrist injuries include:

  • Wrist sprain
  • Wrist fracture
  • Wrist contusion
  • Wrist sprain
  • Wrist dislocation
  • Wrist tendinitis


Complications associated with wrist injuries include:

  • Chronic wrist pain
  • Cellulitis of the hand
  • Disability
  • Deformed wrist
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Skin abscess
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy


Treatment for wrist injuries depends on the severity of the damage. Treatment for a minor wrist injury will usually include rest, cold compresses and elevation. A forearm splint, also called a wrist splint, may be applied to immobilize the wrist, for short-term use only so that it heals. For pain, acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication can be taken.

General treatment options include rest, cold compresses, elevation and pain medication. If you have fractured your wrist or if the bones seem to be moved out of position, avoid trying to realign them yourself. The doctor will move the bones in their original position and apply a splint or cast.

Surgery is required in severe cases such as wrist fractures where the bones must be aligned properly again and fastened in the right position. Healing after surgery may take up to 8 weeks.

Specific treatment options for wrist injuries include:

  • Wound care. Properly rinse the wound with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment after drying
  • Rest the injured area by avoiding activities that trigger pain and other symptoms
  • A sling may be applied to prevent discomfort
  • Apply cold compresses using a moist hand and towel with ice for 20 minutes within every 2 hours. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin
  • Keep the wrist elevated above heart level
  • Apply an elastic wrap
  • A cast or splint will be applied
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication for pain
  • Narcotic pain medication for moderate to severe pain for short-term use
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupation therapy
  • Surgery for wrist fractures
  • Tetanus immunization

Learn More

To learn more about wrist and other joint injuries sign up for first aid and CPR classes with St Mark James.

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