Wrist Sprain vs. Broken Wrist: Signs to Tell Which Happened

wrist sprain


There are eight small bones in your wrist. Any of them can break and cause severe damage to your wrist. 

Depending on the break, your wrist could take anywhere from weeks to months to heal. 

Maybe you broke one of these eight wrist bones, but you’re unsure if it’s a break or a sprain. How do you tell the difference? 

Here’s a guide on the difference between a wrist sprain and a wrist break that can give you insight on if you should see a doctor and the treatment options available to you. 

Signs of a Broken Wrist

While you will have pain in your wrist regardless of if it’s broken or sprained, you will have significantly more pain if you break your wrist. 

Some of the signs of a broken wrist include: 

You might also experience tingling in your fingers. 

Another sign to consider is if you are completely unable to move your wrist either because you have so much pain or because of the swelling. 

Signs of a Wrist Sprain

If you have a wrist sprain, you may be able to move the wrist in a range of motion. It may be painful, but you will still be able to do it. 

That usually means the bones are not broken, and you have a sprain. 

Another sign of a wrist sprain is that there are swelling and redness around the sprained area of the wrist. 

Treatment Options

If you think you broke or sprained your wrist, you should immediately schedule an appointment to see a doctor. In the meantime, you should rest your wrist, especially if you don’t know if it’s broken or sprained. 

If you are experiencing significant pain around your wrist, you can always take Ibuprofen or Aspirin to help alleviate the sprain. 

Another treatment option is to rest. Don’t do any work around the home or anything involving a range of motion with your wrist. 

You should also ice and elevate your wrist. That will help keep the swelling down. 

If you want more advice on how to treat your sprained or broken wrist, you can always visit our website that has useful tips. 

What Should You Do? 

If you do think you have a wrist sprain or you may have fractured your wrist, you should immediately see a doctor. Schedule an appointment to have a medical professional decide if you will need surgery, an x-ray, or specific treatment options.

If you can’t see a doctor immediately, it’s important to remember the acronym, RICE. That stands for, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. That is what you should be doing for your wrist until you see a medical professional. 

Having a broken or sprained wrist can also limit your ability to drive places or see a doctor. If that happens, you can speak with us remotely by contacting us here.