A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that connect one bone to another.

A wrist sprain is a common injury. There are many ligaments in the wrist that can be stretched or torn, resulting in a sprain. This occurs when the wrist is bent forcefully, such as in a fall onto an outstretched hand.


Wrist sprains can range from mild to severe. They are graded depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments.

  • Grade 1 — These mild sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
  • Grade 2 — These moderate sprains occur when the ligaments are partially torn. Grade 2 sprains may involve some loss of function.
  • Grade 3 — These severe sprains occur when the ligament is completely torn. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. As the ligament tears away from the bone, it may also take a small chip of bone with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.


Wrist sprains are most often caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. This might happen during everyday activities but frequently occurs during sports and outdoor recreation.


Symptoms of a wrist sprain may vary in intensity and location. The most common symptoms of a wrist sprain include:

  • Swelling in the wrist
  • Pain at the time of the injury
  • Persistent pain when you move your wrist
  • Bruising or discoloration of the skin around the wrist
  • Tenderness at the injury site
  • A feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist
  • A warm or feverish feeling to the skin around the wrist

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