Doctor putting on a wrist cast.

Updated January 2024

Many of us would sigh relief if we heard that our sprained wrist was only a sprain instead of a broken bone. We would look forward to a less arduous and painful treatment process. So, we might be shocked to discover that we would still need to wear a cast that will immobilize our forearm for weeks.

Casts are just for breaks, right? Not always.

You can treat minor sprains at home. Just avoid any new, risky activity, and you should be fine. However, some sprains are severe enough that even slight movement of the affected ligaments can cause severe pain and impede proper healing.

How to Heal a Severe Sprained Wrist

First, let’s dispel the myth that severe sprains are in any way less serious than broken bones. Sprains damage the ligaments that hold your bones together and are as essential to your skeletal system as the bones themselves. While minor sprains can and do heal on their own, severe sprains can cause permanent changes in the function of the wrist if not treated with due care.

A cast prevents you from moving your wrist during healing. This allows the damaged ligaments to heal. It also prevents you from bending your wrist, which slows the healing process by stressing the ligaments further. Several weeks without the ability to use your wrist might sound like a long time. However, imagine spending twice as long recuperating simply because you were too enthusiastic when you opened the refrigerator.

Healing Continues after the Cast

Even once your wrist has healed sufficiently for the cast to be removed, you need to remember that the job of healing is not finished. You will need additional time for these wrist ligaments to return to normal strength. Many people use wristguards when they exercise. This improves wrist alignment and helps prevent hyperextensions that cause sprains and muscle strains.

For the safest, longest-term healing, it is best to see a physical or occupational therapist who can provide a program specific to your condition.

At Saint Alphonsus Rehabilitation, we can help. We develop exercise and home care routines to resume your full lifestyle — quickly and completely. Contact STARS to put you on the path toward better health.

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