What is a Wrist Ligament Injury?
Wrist Ligaments are the structures that hold together the small bones of the wrist, and unite them to both the hand and the forearm. The eight wrist bones form small joints with each other and with the distal radius and ulna (the two forearm bones). These joints need to be in the correct alignment for the wrist to move smoothly and without pain, and the ligaments provide the primary stabilizing forces.
Wrist Ligament Injury is partial or complete tearing of one or more of these ligaments. A mild sprain represents micro tears in the ligament, but the ligament overall is intact. A severe, or high-grade, tear means the ligament is completely torn.
Some of the most important and most commonly injured wrist ligaments are the Scapholunate Ligament (SL), which connects the scaphoid and lunate, and the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC), which is on the side of the wrist by the ulna.
Symptoms of Wrist Ligament Injury
Pain and swelling are most common after a Wrist Ligament Injury. Moving the wrist may worsen the pain, and a “click” might be heard or felt due to the abnormal motion of the wrist bones or a torn ligament getting caught between the bones. In chronic cases, though the pain may subside, the wrist may feel weak or have limited motion due to the underlying Wrist Ligament Injury.
Common Causes of Wrist Ligament Injury
A fall onto an outstretched hand can sometimes lead to a Wrist Ligament Injury rather than a broken bone. Wrist Ligament Injuries are also seen in sports like Tennis, Baseball, Football, Skiing, Yoga, and Martial Arts.
Diagnosing Wrist Ligament Injury
Speaking with you to understand how the injury happened and carefully examining all aspects of your wrist are essential to making the diagnosis. An x-ray will help evaluate the alignment of the bones in the wrist. Obtaining an MRI is often helpful to visualize the important wrist ligaments if there is concern about a complete tear.
Treatment Options for Wrist Ligament Injury
Mild cases involving a partial tear of a ligament, such as the SL ligament, may be treated conservatively with splinting, anti-inflammatory medication and therapy. Wrist Ligament Injury involving a complete tear of the SL ligament or TFCC, for example, may benefit from surgery to repair the torn structure. This is accomplished through arthroscopic minimally invasive surgery.
Wrist Ligaments can suffer a wide range of injury. A painful and swollen wrist after an accident may be mistaken for “just a sprain”, but could represent significant underlying damage. Call hand surgeon Dr. Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and keep your wrist healthy.