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Wrist Injuries

From baseball to football to boxing, wrist injuries are common for all sorts of athletes. In fact, about 25 percent of all sports injuries involve the hand or wrist. At Henry Ford, we use the most advanced and proven techniques to treat hundreds of wrist injuries every year, from sudden (acute) injuries like fractures and dislocations to ligament injuries resulting from overuse. Regardless of the cause, our sports medicine physicians are eager to be part of your recovery team.

Common wrist injuries

  • Wrist bone (scaphoid) fracture 

    The wrist is comprised of eight small bones (carpals) and two long forearm bones (ulna and radius). Many wrist fractures involve breaks in the radius and are caused by falls on an outstretched hand.


    • Pain with wrist motion
    • Tenderness in wrist at base of the thumb

    Average recovery time

    At doctor’s discretion. A cast may be worn until healed.

  • Carpal tunnel

    Though often associated with activities like writing or typing, athletes can get carpal tunnel syndrome through repetitive wrist motions like swinging a tennis racquet or postures like holding on to handlebars while cycling.


    • Numbness or tingling in the fingers
    • Difficulty holding objects

    Average recovery time

    A few weeks to a few months.

  • Wrist tendonitis

    Usually a result of overuse, wrist tendonitis can occur on the tendons at the back of the wrist (extensors) or on the front of the wrist (flexors).


    • Stiffness
    • Tenderness when pressure is applied to the wrist

    Average recovery time

    A few weeks to a few months.

When to see a doctor

Minor wrist injuries can often be treated at home with the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine. If you’ve sustained a traumatic wrist injury like a fracture or tear, or if pain in your wrist has worsened over the course of a few days, make an appointment with one of our sports medicine physicians.

Other reasons to see a doctor include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty gripping objects

Request an appointment with an orthopedic specialist

How we treat wrist injuries

When you visit Henry Ford for your wrist injury, one of our sports medicine physicians will conduct a physical exam to evaluate the source and severity of your pain. If necessary, we’ll issue an X-Ray, MRI, or CT scan to diagnose the injury properly. Once a diagnosis has been made, we’ll develop a custom treatment plan that may involve rest, physical therapy, or—as a last resort—surgery.

Treatment options

  • Non-Surgical Treatments
  • Surgical Treatment

R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) — When a wrist injury first occurs, patients should rest the affected area to prevent further injury from occurring; ice it to reduce pain; compress it to reduce swelling; and elevate the injured wrist above the heart to also reduce pain, swelling, and recovery time.

Physical Therapy — Many wrist injuries can be treated with physical therapy, either on its own or in conjunction with surgery. For recovering patients, Henry Ford’s rehabilitation team takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining exercise and strength training with manual therapy at more than 20 outpatient facilities across southeast and south central Michigan.

Anti-inflammatory medication — Over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin and Aleve can often help reduce wrist pain from minor sprains and aid in initial recovery.

Wrist arthroscopy — Using an athroscope (tiny camera) that enters the wrist via a small incision, a surgeon can diagnose and treat wrist injuries, including fractures, ligament tears, and more.

Ligament surgery — When ligaments are torn, surgery may be necessary to repair or reconstruct them.

Wide Awake Hand Surgery — With wide awake hand surgery, we use local anesthesia, which numbs only the surgical area. You are awake and alert for the procedure but experience no discomfort. You receive services in a procedure room instead of the operating room. Recovery is typically faster than other surgical techniques, and you likely won’t need hand therapy.


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