How to Tell If You Sprained Your Wrist

By Greg Lindberg
Wrist problems have hindered Phil Mickelson's playing ability on occasion.
Wrist problems have hindered Phil Mickelson's playing ability on occasion.

Wrist injuries are common among golfers. A fall on or off the links can cause a wrist sprain, and if you don't perform wrist exercises before playing or rest your wrists afterward, excessive strain on the wrist can cause pain. Most wrist sprains occur in the lead hand after overuse and cause swelling and sharp pain whenever you move your wrist. However, it’s important to diagnose your wrist problem properly and not to make assumptions.

Gently move your wrist around to check for pain, swelling and tenderness. If you notice a sharp pain in your wrist, try not to bend it until you can determine if you have a wrist sprain and begin to properly treat it.

Look for redness and bruising around your wrist. If you have any swelling, there will most likely be redness as well. Apply a plastic bag of ice to your wrist to reduce the swelling.

Recall if you have had any recent falls or if you accidentally applied excess pressure to your wrist during a game of golf. Think back, too, over whether you have been performing stretches before playing, as recommended, to warm up your muscles.

Continue applying ice to reduce swelling and take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as ibuprofen to alleviate pain. You may need to wear a brace on your wrist to keep from moving it.

Wait overnight to see if the swelling subsides on its own with icing and rest. If your wrist is still swollen, or if its mobility is limited, see your health care provider. This professional will determine if your ligament tissue is torn, and if so, to what degree.

If pain and swelling persists, your doctor may order an x-ray of your wrist to determine if you have suffered a fracture. A hairline wrist fracture can cause some of the same symptoms as a sprain.

If you continue to experience pain and you can’t move your wrist, your doctor may order an MRI, a CT scan or a bone scan to diagnose your problem.

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