The wrist is considered to be the most complex joint in the body. Wrist injuries are not uncommon. It can lead to several wrist problems such as wrist sprain, torn ligament or even fracture of wrist bones. Damage to ligaments can significantly affect wrist movement as well as several other wrist problems. Ligaments are strong band of tissues which help keep the bones connected to one another.
Ligament tear in wrist joint occurs due to falling on the hand which places the wrist in an awkward position. The patient may often give a history of pop sound when the ligament is torn.Treating a torn ligament of wrist at home is difficult, it may need medical evaluation. The only possible thing that can be done is first aid treatment to control swelling and pain and prevent further damage to the ligament.
Symptoms Of Torn Ligament In Wrist
Before knowing the symptoms of torn ligaments, it becomes necessary to understand the anatomy of wrist joint in brief. The wrist is made up of several small bones called carpal bones. There are two sets of carpal bones, each placed in a row of four one above the other, besides two lower ends of long bones, the radius and ulna.Carpal bones are connected to each other by ligament which helps easy mobility and balancing of the bones. When the ligament is torn, the balance between the bones is changed giving rise to pain and in chronic cases, problems such as osteoarthritis.
Pain and swelling of the wrist joint are two important symptoms that are found when ligament tear occurs in the wrist joint. A patient often gives a history of peculiar popping or snapping sound when the ligament is torn. The clicking noise persists every time the wrist moves thereafter, especially while gripping an object.
If the condition is not treated on time, there may be stiffness of the wrist joint and features of osteoarthritis. The pain continues all the time as the ligament is unable to hold the bones in place. In chronic stages, the pain often becomes less during activity, but stiffness and pain may increase when the wrist movements are stopped.
Treatment Options For Torn Ligament In Wrist
Torn ligament of wrist unlike wrist sprain has progressive joint problems. Due to symptom similarity in the initial stage, it is difficult to know whether the injury has resulted in sprain or it is actual ligament tear. However, over a period of time, the pain and stiffness becomes more obvious with torn ligaments.
Treatment of torn ligament needs medical attention. The physician, after examination, may recommend certain tests such as X-ray and MRI. It will help in finding out if the ligament is torn. In doubtful cases, arthroscopic examination may be necessary.
Home treatment consists of first aid. The immediate goal is to reduce pain and swelling, the two prominent symptoms of a torn wrist ligament. Apply ice on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes. It will help reduce swelling and pain. For immobility, wrap the wrist with an elasto-crepe bandage. It will provide compression and support to the wrist joint. The next step is to consult a physician to determine the extent of damage to the ligament or fracture of the wrist bones.
Generally when wrist ligament is torn, the wrist joint requires immobilization for a few weeks to ensure quick healing of the ligament. After examination, the physician may apply a cast or a wrist splint with a sling to provide support to the wrist joint. The splint may remain for 4 to 6 weeks.
If the torn ligament is examined many months after initial injury, correction may require more intensive procedure such as tendon graft. The torn ligament is then replaced by a tendon graft. In some cases, where the replacement is not possible the carpal bones may need to be fused to prevent pain caused by rubbing of bones. However, this may alter the movement of the wrist joint.
Physical therapy, few weeks after the surgery, is crucial for a favorable outcome.