How do I treat a torn wrist ligament?

Treating a torn wrist ligament is not something that can be done at home. Only sprains can be treated without the help of a doctor. Torn ligaments may require surgery of the wrist bones or ligament to decrease pain and restore function.

A torn wrist ligament, unlike a sprain, can cause progressive joint problems if not treated properly. Since they have the same symptoms of swelling and bruising that are characteristic of a normal sprain, torn ligaments can only be treated at home with ice packs before normal activities are resumed. A few weeks later, when the wrist stiffens and the pain becomes continuous, the true extent of the injury becomes obvious. There may also be clicking or clicking sounds whenever the wrist is moved.

Treatment of a suspected torn wrist ligament begins with a medical exam. To see the extent of the damage, an X-ray or MRI of the wrist will be taken. If this does not result in a clear image, an arthroscope or small camera may be inserted into the wrist joint. Your doctor will also ask about your past health history and any injuries you've had to the same joint.

The treatment used for a torn wrist ligament depends on the age of the injury. If your injury was diagnosed right away and is not too serious, you may simply be placed in a cast for a few weeks to keep your limb immobile until it heals. If it is so severe that some of the wrist bones no longer hold 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 goes undiagnosed for a much longer period, such as six months after the initial injury, a tendon graft may be needed to replace the damaged tissue. Often a tendon will be taken from the same wrist to perform this surgery. Torn ligaments that have gone untreated for years will have bone damage because the damaged ligament will only loosely hold it, which can lead to arthritis. Since the ligaments cannot be replaced in an older injury, the bones that are painfully rubbing against each other may need to fuse together to stop the pain, which can lead to partial loss of motion in the wrist.

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