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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.