Dislocated Wrist Symptoms: What Causes It & How To Treat It?

A dislocated wrist is a common wrist injury among gymnasts and people who play contact sports. It may also occur in a normal person after a fall with an impact on wrist of an overstretched hand. Wrist joint is made up of eight carpal bones. They are small bones attached to each other by ligaments. Dislocation of any carpal bone leads to severe pain and deformity of wrist joint. Severe traumatic injury can also lead to fracture of wrist bones.

Dislocated wrist requires medical attention in order to prevent deformity. Depending on the severity, treatment may be surgical repair or manipulation with a cast placed around to realign the dislocated carpal bones.

Dislocated wrist injury takes one or two months to heal. Once the cast is out, physical rehabilitation exercises are necessary to improve the range of motion.

Causes Of Wrist Dislocation

The wrist joint consists of eight carpal bones. These carpal bones are placed in a row of four in two lines one above the other. Due to their anatomical position, the hand is able to move in 3 dimensional space to perform regular daily activities.

Dislocation of wrist is usually a traumatic injury. It occurs after a fall on an overstretched hand. A heavy impact on wrist during fall is responsible for tear or strain of the ligaments.

The bones get dislodged from its place once the ligaments are torn or distorted. Falls of this nature usually occur in people who play contact sports such as rugby, football, etc.

Wrist dislocation is very common among gymnasts as it involves rigorous complicated movements of wrist joint. Other sports such as horse ridding, cycling are also known to cause dislocation of wrist after a fall while playing these sports. Wrist dislocation most often occurs in young people who are active; however this traumatic injury can also occur in elderly individuals, who are more prone to fall.

Symptoms Of A Dislocated Wrist

Swelling and pain at the affected site are two most prominent symptoms of dislocated wrist. Both symptoms develop soon after the injury. In majority of cases a bony deformity is obviously detected. The wrist is tender to touch. Pain increases with movement of wrist joint.

Due to dislocation the hand becomes weak and there may be associated tingling in the fingers mainly in the thumb, middle and index finger. Tingling is due to compression of medial nerve which passes from the grove of carpal bones.

Range of motion is affected and patient finds difficulty in moving the wrist joint. There may be marks of bruises and laceration on wrist due to fall.

Treatment Options For Dislocated Wrist

Wrist dislocation can be treated conservatively or surgically depending on the severity of the condition. It can only be determined after radiological findings such as X-ray and sometimes MRI.

  • The first thing that needs to be done is to immobilize the wrist joint. Patient should stay away from all activities which can pressurize the affected part.
  • Conservative treatment consists of applying ice fomentation over the area. It helps to alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Patient may need closed reduction after which the wrist may be put in a cast which has to remain for one to two months.
  • In case of severe dislocation which may be accompanied with fracture of carpal bones, surgical repair may help to realign the bones. To alleviate pain and swelling patient may need anti inflammatory medicines and analgesics.
  • After the cast is removed, the doctor recommends doing physical therapy. It helps to strengthen the muscles and ligaments. The main purpose of physical therapy, once the healing process begins is to restore full range of motion of wrist joint.