How do I know if my wrist pain is just a sprain or whether I tore a ligament?


You fall on your wrist and feel pain--and it does not seem to go away. A "sprain" typically means an injury that will get better--that will resolve. A torn ligament, by contrast, is more severe, and may ultimately require surgical intervention, especially if the stability of the wrist is jeopardized---a situation that may be referred to as "carpal instability".  In actuality, a sprain and a torn ligament are two ends of a spectrum of injury--micro tears versus a complete disruption. Appropriate treatment may begin and end with 4-6 weeks of splinting. But--if pain persists, formal assessment by a specialist, xrays, and even possibly an MRI, may be indicated.

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