All That You Need To Know About Dislocated Wrist And Its Treatment

We are sure that most of us have gone through the problem of a dislocated wrist once in our life. Although considered trivial, we have to admit that having a dislocated wrist can be a very uncomfortable problem. It creates a considerable impact on our day to day activities and therefore we should have a basic idea on how to deal with one if we ever encounter it in our life.

So let us begin then.

What is a dislocated wrist?

Dislocated wrist is a type of ligament injury which causes the bones of our wrist to be out of alignment.

Our wrist is made up of eight small bones which are known as the carpals. A network of ligaments hold them in place and allow them their functional movements. A tear in the ligaments results in one or more bones to go past their usual positions which creates the condition of a dislocated wrist.

Out of the eight bones present in the wrist, it is the lunate and the scaphoid which gets most affected.

There are generally four different types of dislocated wrist conditions:

  • Anterior lunate dislocation- Rotation of lunate bone takes pace while the others remain in place.
  • Perilunate dislocation- Dislocation of the lunate bone along with three other ligaments around it, is known as perilunate dislocation.
  • Galeazzi fracture- A break in the radius bone or a dislocation of the radioulnar joint is popularly known as Galeazzi fracture.
  • Monteggia fracture- In case of Monteggia Fracture, a break in ulna or dislocation in one of the ends of radius generally occurs.

Some dislocated wrist symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of dislocated wrist observed are

  • Swelling of the affected area.
  • Formation of black and blue bruises due to inflammation in those areas.
  • Persistent pain and tenderness detected in those areas.
  • The pain can worsen if the wrist is rotated to any side and a “popping” sound is usually perceived.
  • If lunate bone gets out of alignment then it can get pressed against the nerves and can create a tingling or numbing sensation in the fingers.
  • The affected area may appear warm to touch.

Causes of dislocated wrists

A dislocated wrist can happen very easily for a variety of reasons, ranging from a simple fall to some serious nerve or blood vessel damage. Ligaments which keep the bone in place, if it gets stretched too far then it causes the condition of dislocated wrists.

Some of the most common causes for a dislocated wrists are-

  • Fall-  Descending onto an outstretched hand or trying to break a fall with your hand is probably the most common cause for a dislocated wrist.
  • Injuries caused due to sports- Dislocated wrists is one of the biggest problems for anyone who plays sports. A wrist fracture is very common for those who play hard turf games which involves falling or a lot of contacts.

Some of the most common sports which involve the risk of causing a dislocated wrist are

  1. Football, soccer or rugby especially if it involves playing on artificial turf.
  2. Horseback riding
  3. Skiing, ice hockey and skating
  4. Hockey and cricket.
  • Accidents- Motor vehicle crashes or something heaving colliding with your hand can often break the wrist bones into many pieces which then requires medical attention for the cure.
  • Continuous pressure on wrists- If a continual strain is put on the wrists, it can put the wrists under the tremendous burden which may lead to a swollen or a dislocated wrist.
dislocated wrist

Treatment for dislocated wrists

A condition of a dislocated wrist is generally divided into three categories depending upon its severity.

  • Grade 1- It is in the stage of a mild sprain. In this condition, the ligaments are usually stretched from their usual position but are not torn.
  • Grade 2- Next comes the stage of moderate sprain where some ligaments of the wrist are generally torn and the wrist has lost some of its functionality.
  • Grade 3- This is the most severe level for a dislocated wrist condition. At least one ligament is completely torn and it has simultaneously pulled off a piece of bone with it while coming off.

The treatment for a dislocated wrist depends upon the severity of the condition. Even if you have a slight sprain, it is always advisable to consult a doctor as a dislocated wrist if left untreated can worsen with every passing day and can cause tremendous uneasiness and pain.

  • If you are suffering from a Grade 1 sprain, RICE treatment is generally applied to the affected area. RICE stands for Rest Ice Compression Elevation. Ice packs are applied onto the area after every 20 minutes interval and an elastic bandage aid is applied with compression. 

For a mild dislocation, the process of reduction is used. The doctor gently manoeuvres the wrist back into its original position in this process. It can be a little painful but local or general anaesthesia is applied to the patient.

The wrist should be kept above the head and complete rest is advised.

  • For a person enduring Grade 2 pain, customised splint or cast is prescribed so that it can prevent the wrist from moving and can hold the dislocated joints or the bones steadily and also promotes quick healing.
  • A Grade 3 sufferer needs immediate surgery to realign the bones and also repair the torn ligaments.

How to prevent a dislocated wrist?

Some mishaps cannot be avoided but we can always be prepared. Prevention is always better than cure and therefore some of the basic measures that we can always keep in our mind are

  • Wearing wrist guards for high-risk sports like skating, snowboarding, rugby or football.
  • Falling is the most common cause of a dislocated wrist and therefore to avoid this familiar factor-
  1. Avoid slippery surfaces as much as possible and wear shoes that have a better grip on the ground.
  2. Installation of grab bars in the bathroom and handrails at stairways.
  3. Be more careful while walking so that unnecessary tripping over can be avoided.
  • Build up the bone strength by eating a nutritious diet which includes adequate calcium and Vitamin D and also inculcates more weight-bearing exercises in our health regime.

Having a dislocated wrist can be troublesome as it has an effective consequence in our lives. Nevertheless, a dislocated wrist can be easily treated but make sure to follow up the treatment with physical therapy to regain back the initial strength and flexibility. Never put excessive pressure on the wrists, keep the above safety measures in mind and you are all good to go.

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