A sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments without any joint displacement (dislocation). The injury can range from straightforward over-stretching (mild sprain) to total rupture (severe sprain) via tearing of a few fibre bundles (moderate sprain). Ligaments join two bones together to form a joint. They are composed of several fibre bundles and are not very stretchy. Following a trauma (impact, contrary movement), the joint can be forced into a position that goes beyond its natural range of motion, leading to a painful injury. A mild sprain is also called a "strain" or a "twist".
A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments joining the carpal bones, or the radius to the metacarpal bones. It can occur in seemingly innocuous everyday circumstances or during a sports activity. The automatic reflex of putting out your hand, palm down, to break a fall can lead to hyperextension of the wrist joint. The ligaments supporting the small bones of the wrist are stretched beyond their natural limits, causing a sprain. Much more unusually, a sprain may also occur when falling onto the back of the hand with the wrist flexed Beware, a wrist sprain may sometimes be accompanied by a scaphoid fracture or a fracture of one of the other 8 carpal bones (wrist).
The aim of an orthopaedic solution is to relieve pain (analgesia) and heal ligaments. Depending on the severity of the sprain, it ranges from strapping to immobilising wrist braces: made-to-measure heat-moulded braces and standard wrist or wrist-thumb braces. The wrist is held in a neutral anatomical position, balancing ligament tensions. It is important to accept that the wrist will be immobilised for a period so that it can heal in the correct position. If this is not the case, the hand will lose its strength.
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