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How do I Treat a Sprained Hand?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Treatment for a sprained hand includes taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and applying ice to the hand. In addition, applying a splint to the sprained hand can immobilize it and promote healing. Symptoms of a sprained hand include pain, inflammation, and bruising. Elevation of the hand can also promote circulation and help with the healing process.

When an injury to the hand occurs, the physician needs to rule out other conditions, such as broken bones or torn ligaments, before the diagnosis of a sprained hand can be made. If torn ligaments are diagnosed, surgery might be recommended. The physician might recommend x-rays of the hand to determine if a any bones are broken bone. If x-rays show no breaks, the diagnosis of a sprained hand can be considered.

Sometimes, a sprained hand can look worse than it actually is. Surprisingly, even when the hand is profoundly discolored due to a sprain, pain is sometimes minimal. When icing a sprained hand, ice should not be applied directly to bare skin. This is not only uncomfortable, it can also cause significant tissue damage, and even frostbite in extreme cases. Placing ice in an ice bag or using a bag of frozen vegetables makes excellent ice packs, as does ice that has been placed in a plastic lunch bag. When using frozen vegetables or a plastic bag with ice, be sure to cover the packs with a clean cloth.

A sprained hand is commonly caused by a sports injury, and when this occurs, the participant should immediately stop playing and rest the hand. Continuing to play can increase the chance of injury and might even cause damage to already stressed tissues. In cases where pain relievers, ice, and immobilization are not effective in relieving pain, swelling, and range of motion, occupational therapy might be recommended by the physician.

Occupational therapy can help strengthen the hand muscles and improve mobility and range of motion. Through a series of therapeutic exercises and movements, the occupational therapist can often help the individual regain strength and improve finger range of motion. In addition, some physical and occupational therapy clinics offer paraffin wax treatments, where the patient places his hand into a warm wax bath. The warm, hardened paraffin wax is soothing to the hand and it can also increase blood flow and circulation.

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Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On May 25, 2014

@raynbow- The problem that your friend is having is most likely a lasting effect from a serious sprain. Being inactive for a while as a result of her hand and wrist sprain no doubt has contributed to her feeling as if her hand is still in pain and not as mobile as it use to be, even though her doctor has told her she has healed.

The best thing that your friend can do is to talk to her doctor about her problem, and ask if physical therapy will help her hand feel normal again. In therapy, she will be shown how to do various exercises that will stretch the tendons and muscles in her hand and wrist. These exercises will help her regain more movement and flexibility in her hand, which will also alleviate some of the pain that she is experiencing.

Her therapist may also use a combination of heat, cold, and ultrasound therapy to help stimulate the muscles and tendons in her hand to help them get back to normal. In addition, your friend may also be given instructions on how to do various hand exercises at home to keep her flexible in between her therapy appointments.

By Raynbow — On May 24, 2014

My best friend sprained her wrist and hand a few months ago, and had to use medications for the pain and wear a splint for a while. Though her doctor has since told her that she has healed, she is still experiencing pain and stiffness in her hand. Does anyone have some thoughts about what she should do to help this problem?

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