A sprained wrist is a common fall-related injury, since you instinctively extend your hand and often land with your weight on your wrist. If you're an athlete, a sprained wrist can put a major wrench in your plans when you're taken out of the game for a few weeks. In order to heal a sprained wrist quickly, you must follow the RICE principle for sprains -- rest, ice, compression and elevation -- to facilitate healing so you can get back in the game again.
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Visit your doctor so she can look at the sprain and analyze its severity. Wrist sprains are usually broken into three grades: mild, moderate and severe. The healing process for a mild sprain will be drastically different from that of a severe sprain. A severe sprain may require physical therapy while minor sprains mostly require time.
Rest your wrist to give it time to heal. You may find that, depending on the severity of the sprain, immobilization through a soft cast is necessary. If your sprain is the result of a sports injury, you should stop playing the sport immediately, at least for a few weeks while your wrist heals. Overworking your wrist when it's not fully healed could result in further injury and even permanent damage.
Ice your wrist to help reduce swelling and pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises that you never apply ice directly to the skin. Use a gel ice pack with a cover or fill a small plastic bag with ice cubes. Frozen vegetables also make good ice packs since they form around the wrist. Ice can be applied up to 20 minutes at a time, resting in between applications.
Elevate your wrist above your heart. This will help reduce some of the swelling so you have better wrist mobility. This may entail propping your wrist up with pillows when you sleep or sit in a chair.
Take an over-the-counter pain medication to help manage any pain associated with your sprained wrist. You may experience some tenderness, especially when beginning to rehabilitate the wrist that can cause you to be uncomfortable. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce swelling and ease pain throughout the healing process, notes the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Begin the rehabilitation process under your doctor's supervision and authorization. Rehabilitation may begin with something as simple as squeezing a stress ball to regain mobility, says SportsMD.com. Then, pain-free, light range of motion exercises can be employed to help you rehabilitate your wrist.