How Do I Treat a Swollen Wrist?

Ibuprofen may be helpful in treating a swollen wrist.
In some cases, putting a compression bandage on a wrist may be necessary to provide stability and protect the injury.
A cold compress will reduce swelling.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A swollen wrist can occur for many different reasons. The origin may be some type of developing ailment, or the result of a recent wrist injury. While it is always a good idea to see a doctor and rule out breaks or the development of arthritis, there is a good chance that you can treat the wrist at home with nothing more than a few common sense strategies and some over the counter products.

Your first task in dealing with a swollen wrist is to take steps to ease the swelling. The application of ice as soon as you become aware of the swelling is very important. Cold will help to slow down the process of wrist inflammation, and possibly begin to ease the swelling somewhat. Containing the swelling in this manner will also make it much easier for your doctor to examine the wrist and determine what is causing your discomfort.

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In order to identify the underlying cause for your swollen wrist, your doctor will want to know what you were doing when the swelling began to take place. The use of X-rays are not uncommon, as they can quickly allow your physician to determine if any bones are out of line or damaged in any way. In some cases, additional tests like a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, may be appropriate. Depending on the findings, your doctor may provide you with medication to ease the swelling, place the wrist in a cast, or provide you with general instructions on how to rest the wrist and promote healing without the need for medical procedures or prescription medication.

If your doctor finds that the swelling is due to inflammation of the wrist ligaments or the wrist muscles, there is a good chance you will be given some basic advice on how to treat the swollen wrist. These will include applying an ice pack to the wrist for short periods of time throughout the day. At the same time, you will be told to refrain from placing any pressure on the wrist until the swelling and any accompanying bruising is totally gone. In some cases, the use of a compression bandage to add stability and protection to the injured wrist may be appropriate. Keeping the wrist elevated is also likely to help with the swelling.

For pain, your doctor may recommend taking over the counter products containing ibuprofen. These not only will help ease the pain, but also provide some degree of anti-inflammatory relief to the damaged area. When coupled with icing and the use of a compression bandage, there is a chance you will see a noticeable reduction in the swelling in as little as a couple of days.

In some cases, you may need to undergo some type of wrist physical therapy. Depending on the reason for the swollen wrist, various forms of wrist rehabilitation may be necessary. These may include simple exercises you can perform at home, or rehabilitation work that is done under the direction of a physical therapist. In both cases, it is important to report any additional swelling that may occur as a result of the therapy, and thus prevent any further damage.

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Discuss this Article

anon969788
Post 5

I've done nothing to my wrist, but I have a lump on the side of my wrist. It is swollen and bruised. I am 11.

anon294873
Post 4

How can I decrease the swelling? I just had surgery two months ago?

zenmaster
Post 3

@googlefanz -- You should go to a doctor! If it's been swollen and painful for that long, you should definitely go get it checked out.

It sounds like you may have gotten a small fracture or busted up a ligament.

Either way, you should definitely go get an X-ray.

If nothing else, they can give you some painkillers and a splint, and give you some idea about a recovery time.

googlefanz
Post 2

I was playing basketball last week and fell on my hands. Now I'm having some pretty severe wrist pain with swelling.

I've been keeping it elevated and packed with ice, but is there anything else I should do?

It's pretty well bruised, but I can still move it, so I don't think it's broken or anything.

Advice please!

pharmchick78
Post 1

Remember people, in cases of hand and wrist pain: RICE -- Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation!

That will help the vast majority of swollen joints, and almost never hurts.

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