When your child runs off the field holding their wrist, you might be worried about a fracture. However, broken and strained wrists may show similar symptoms. While you should always visit a sports injury clinic for diagnostics and treatment, there are some ways you can spot the difference between a simple strain and a wrist fracture.

How to Check and Treat an Injured Wrist

Breaks vs. Strains: Spotting The Symptoms

When trying to determine your child’s injury, keep in mind that pain isn’t always an indicator. Strains and fractures can often be equally painful. Both injuries may also cause swelling, weakness, and bruising. However, each injury has a few distinct symptoms as well.

  • Strains: Strained wrists are injury to the tendons or muscles and are a common youth sports injury. While it is likely painful to move their wrist, your child may still be able to use their full range of motion. The wrist may also still be in alignment. Again, it can be challenging to use pain as an indicator, but strains often cause throbbing and tenderness. Your child may also feel pain in the entire wrist joint, rather than in one spot. 
  • Breaks: If your child’s wrist is broken, they may not be able to move it or have limited range of motion. You might also notice that the wrist is out of alignment or bent. In severe fractures, the bone may be physically displaced or protruding from the skin. It’s possible that your child will feel numbness in their fingers if their wrist is broken. 

While you may be able to guess whether your child’s wrist is strained or broken, it’s impossible to know without seeing a doctor. Visit a sports injury clinic right after your child experiences the injury. Prompt treatment will ensure that your child’s injury heals quickly. 

Diagnostics & Treatment 

Once you arrive at the sports injury clinic, the doctor will likely recommend an x-ray. The x-ray will typically show if one of the bones in the wrist is broken. In some cases, the doctor may recommend an MRI as well. This is often the case if the ligaments in the inner wrist are strained or if your child has a small fracture.

If the doctor determines that your child’s wrist is broken, they will likely immobilize the wrist in a splint or cast. Surgery may be necessary for open fractures, fractures on a joint, or breaks that involve loose pieces of bone. Your child may need physical therapy to regain full use of the wrist as they heal. 

Since strains are often acute orthopedic injuries, your child may not need significant treatment. Rest and icing is often sufficient. However, more severe strains may require immobilization. In this case, the doctor will put a brace or splint on the wrist to keep it in place. Your child may have to take some time off of sports, but more invasive treatments like surgery are typically not necessary. 

When your child falls and hurts their wrist, the team at Sport Ortho Urgent Care is here to help. As the 24-hour urgent care Nashville trusts, we offer in-house diagnostics and sports injury treatment. We have several convenient locations in Mt. Juliet, Murfreesboro, and Hendersonville, TN. While we accept walk-ins at any time, you’re also welcome to book an appointment over the phone or through our online scheduling system

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