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How Can I Treat a Bruised Wrist?

By L. Baran
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

A bruised wrist can occur for a number of different reasons, including contusions, wrist fractures, sprains, tendinitis and dislocation. Treatment depends on the cause of injury and its severity, but generally follows similar guidelines. For mild bruising, the area should be rested, elevated and iced. Supportive bandages, wraps or slings may be used to protect the area, and anti-inflammatory medication can be taken to control pain and swelling. In some cases, physical or occupational therapy may be recommended.

Before treating a bruised wrist the possibility of fracture should be ruled out, as a wrist fracture would require specialist treatment and casting. Any injury should be treated as soon as possible to minimize pain and swelling. The wrist should be raised above the level of the heart and wrapped in a cold compress. Ice should be left on for approximately 20 minutes before being removed, and can be placed on the bruised wrist at least three times a day. After the first few days following injury, a warm compress may provide pain relief.

To keep the area protected and immobile while healing occurs, a bandage, wrap or sling can be used. The wrist should be wrapped tightly but comfortably with an elastic, breathable wrap. For more serious contusions, a sling can provide a more comfortable position for the arm. Slings should not be worn continuously for more than 10 to 14 days as this increases the risk of developing a frozen shoulder due to lack of movement. Commercial wrist braces are also available, but these may allow too much movement for the initial healing phase and must fit snugly to be effective.

For mild to moderate swelling and pain resulting from a bruised wrist, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, can be taken. Any questions regarding medication should be directed to a pharmacist or doctor, and medicine should not be used for more than a week without seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional. Physical or occupational therapy may be needed to help reduce inflammation as well as to demonstrate exercises for range, motion and strength. Modalities including paraffin wax, ultrasound, ice, heat and whirlpools can be used to reduce swelling and pain.

Most often, bruises on the wrist are caused by contusions after the area is bumped or knocked against a hard object. Acute sprains or tendinitis from overexertion or overuse of the area may also result in some bruising and swelling. Bruising should resolve within two weeks. If it does not, the advice of a doctor should be sought to rule out any underlying problems.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Jul 08, 2013

Is it a bad idea to take aspirin for a bruised wrist? Aspirin is not good for bruises right?

What kind of pain reliever should I take?

By donasmrs — On Jul 07, 2013

@turquoise-- You should wear a wrist wrap. It keeps the wrist relatively immobile so that it can heal while you go about regular activity.

I used one just a few weeks ago and it worked great. I applied ice for the first few days like you, followed by a pain-relieving topical cream. I wore the wrist wrap for almost two weeks, until the pain was completely gone. It helped so much.

I think people who have jobs that require a lot of physical activity might need a sling or might need to avoid activity for a while. But if you don't have to use your hands much, than a wrist wrap is enough.

By turquoise — On Jul 07, 2013

I sprained and bruised my wrist a couple of days ago. I'm still not sure how I did it, I just know that I moved my wrist in a way I shouldn't have and hit my chair.

I applied ice on it the first day, which helped with the bruising but I'm still in pain. I try not to move it much but I need to type on the computer for my job so it's hard to do keep my wrist still.

Is there anything else I can do to help it heal faster?

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