Wrist ligament issues?

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Wrist ligaments stabilize the wrist and connect it to other bones. Injuries can occur from repetitive motion or sudden impact, causing problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a wrist sprain. Prevention is difficult, but physical therapy and protective gear can help.

There are a number of short, tight ligaments that work to stabilize the eight bones of the wrist and these stabilizers are referred to as wrist ligaments. These ligaments not only connect the bones of the wrist to each other, but also connect the wrist with the radius and ulna bones in the arm and the metacarpal bones in the fingers. Wrist ligaments are classified in several ways. First, they can be considered intrinsic or extrinsic wrist ligaments. They can also be classified as volar – on the palm side – or dorsal – on the back of the hand and wrist. Problems with wrist ligaments can result from different types of injuries.

The ligaments in the wrist can develop problems from repetitive motion or injury during a single throwing, impacting, twisting, or loading motion. One of the best-known wrist problems is carpal tunnel syndrome, in which the median nerve is compressed, causing pain, numbness, or weakness when using the hand. Although it is usually due to other causes, the transverse carpal ligament may be implicated in carpal tunnel syndrome if it has thickened and narrowed the opening for the nerve.

Because everything in the wrist is so compact and tightly connected, any bone that moves out of place can cause damage to the ligaments in the wrist. This is the case whether there is a wrist subluxation, where a bone in the wrist joint is partially dislocated, or if there is a complete dislocation. Even when everything is back in place, the ligaments may need time to heal.

What is commonly called a “wrist sprain” actually refers to the partial or complete stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments in the wrist. Sprains can be diagnosed using a physical exam and, if found to be insufficient, arthroscopy, a bone scan, CT scan, MRI scan, or X-ray. Distortions are classified by degree. Grade 1 is a situation where stretching and/or micro-tears occur. Grade 2 refers to a partial tear of a ligament. Grade 3 is a severe or complete ligament tear.

Preventing ligament problems in the wrist is rarely a possibility. It may be possible if you have risk factors, such as poor balance and coordination, limited flexibility, and loose joints, to address them through a physical therapy program. Taking the proper precautions when playing a sport, including wearing wrist guards for activities like inline skating, can also help prevent injuries. Most wrist injuries are not preventable.

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