How Are Wrist Injuries Diagnosed?

The wrist is structurally one of the most complex joints, consisting of tendons, ligaments, and small bones. Because it doesn't bear bodyweight the same way that knees do, wrists are more susceptible to injuries.

Wrist injuries result from physical trauma such as falling on an outstretched hand, sudden twisting, bending backward, overuse, or heavy impact and are common in several sports, including:

  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Martial Arts
  • Gymnastics
  • Skateboarding

Physicians will cover a patient's symptoms and wrist injury history before performing a physical examination to determine the cause of pain and swelling. If the damage is extensive or difficult to determine, X-rays, CT scans, and MRI imaging may be ordered to pinpoint which bones and soft tissues have been affected. 

Additionally, some physicians may choose to diagnose internal wrist injuries using an arthroscope. They insert a thin camera through a small incision that displays the joint's interior on a screen, allowing a clearer view of the damaged structures and a definitive diagnosis. 

If damage to the wrist is minimal, the first approach to recovery is conservative treatment, which may require joint immobilization, icing, elevation, rest, and medication to reduce pain and swelling. If wrist injuries fail to heal after this period, patients may require surgery to repair the damaged bones or tissues.