Musculoskeletal system

Dislocated Wrist: 7 Causes, Types, 10 Symptoms, 12 Exercises

A dislocated wrist can be one of the most agonizing injuries to sustain. Your wrist consists of small bones, 8 in total known as carpals. These carpals are held together by a network of ligaments. Ligaments are short bands of tough and fibrous connective tissue that connect two bones and cartilages together.

A tear or laceration in any of these ligaments can result in two or more of the carpal bones moving out of position; this is what is termed as a dislocated wrist. A dislocated wrist is usually occasioned by a bad fall or a blunt force trauma such as a blow to the wrist.

Types of Wrist Dislocation:

dislocated wrist
Dislocated wrist
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There are different types of dislocations depending on the injury; the most common and frequently occurring wrist injuries usually involve the lunate bone. The lunate bone is one of the carpal bones in your hand, distinguished from the rest due to its concave shape and crescent-like outline.

Types of Dislocations:

Lunate Dislocation:

This is a dislocation of the lunate bone which is painful and can alter the functioning of other carpal bones. The lunate bone, in this case, rotates out of place leaving the other carpal bones intact.

Perilunate Dislocation:

This involves the dislocation of the lunate bone and the three ligaments that surround it.

The Galeazzi Fracture:

This injury involves a break in the radius bone and a dislocation of the ulna joint. The radius bone is one of the two large bones of the forearm, the other bone is known as the ulna.

Monteggia Fracture:

This injury involves a break in your ulna as well as a fracture in one of the ends of the radius.

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Causes of a Dislocated Wrist:

Awkward Fall:

A dislocated wrist can occur as a result of an awkward fall on the wrist or an outstretched hand. This usually occurs when an individual tries to support themselves during a fall, which is only natural.

Sport-related Injury:

Contact sports such as football, soccer and rugby can lead to violent falls. These falls can not only cause a dislocated wrist but also serious harm to other crucial parts of your body.

Research has it that American football hits are similar to 62 car crashes per game. That statistic alone speaks to the severity of injury some of these contact sports can cause.


Resistance exercises such as weight lifting are always encouraged, but nothing is said about the potential damage that some of these exercises can cause.

When you hold a weight in the wrong way, you are likely to sustain a dislocated wrist. It is also advisable to warm up before your workout since this will reduce the chances of you sustaining an injury.

Aggravation of past Injuries:

When there is a history of injury on the wrist area of the hand, then that area is susceptible to recurrent or aggravated injury.

Skating Injuries:

Skating is not an activity for the faint-hearted, it is also not an activity for those who are inexperienced and sloppy since it can lead to bad falls. These bad falls more often than not lead to hand injuries. One of the commonly seen skating injuries is a dislocated wrist.

Work-related Injuries:

A dislocated wrist can also occur as a result of an occupational injury. If your work involves strenuous activity such as loading heavy bags to a truck, carrying heavy stones to a construction site and lifting heavy luggage for guests every day, then you are vulnerable to a hand or arm injury.

The most likely hand injury you can sustain is the dislocated wrist injury. Similarly, if you operate heavy machinery on a daily basis, the chances are that you will hurt your wrist at least once or twice in the course of your career.

Car Injuries:

If you spend some years behind the wheel, the chances are that you will get into an accident situation, however minor, at least once in your driving life. A dislocated wrist is one of the injuries that can be sustained during these accidents.

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This injury can happen during violent crashes or as result of an emergency brake that can jerk your body forward due to inertia. This is why an emphasis on wearing seatbelts is very important since seatbelts can save you from sustaining such an injury.

Symptoms of a Dislocated Wrist:

Sharp Pain:

Immediately after the occurrence of the injury, sharp pain will be felt in the wrist area. This will impair basic activity such as; regular hand movements, holding things, handshakes, writing if the injury occurs on your writing hand and typing.


A dislocated wrist is likely to cause tenderness around that area, leading to pain every time the affected area is pressed or even brushed through.

Tingling Sensation:

Another symptom is a tingling sensation across the thumb, index and middle fingers.

Restricted Movement:

A dislocated wrist causes pain in the wrist area of the arm. Naturally, a patient will desist from moving the wrist to avoid the sharp pain.

Swelling of the Affected Area:

The dislocation in the wrist causes swelling. The kind of swelling that will be seen will depend on the severity of the injury.


A dislocated wrist is likely to cause a deformity due to the shifting of carpal bones, as well as swelling, occasioned by the injury.

Increased Pain with Movement:

A dislocated wrist will surely hurt every time sudden jerks or movements are made. This will restrict an individual from making regular hand movements.

Increased Pain While Gripping:

The pain from a dislocated wrist is likely to be exacerbated when a patient attempts to grip something. This will force a patient to only use one hand for gripping if the injury occurred in one hand.


The injury may cause bruising, either from the trauma caused by a fall or a blow to the wrist or from the dislocation of carpal bones which might have bruised the skin.

Stiff Thumbs and Fingers:

A dislocated wrist restricts movement thereby causing stiffness in the thumbs and fingers.

Ways to Treat a Dislocated Wrist:

Adjusting Dislocations:

A mild dislocation can be treated by gently manoeuvring the dislocated bones back to the right place in a procedure known as reduction.

This procedure can cause a lot of pain depending on how serious the injury might be. The doctor may consider administering anaesthesia before beginning the adjustment if he or she deems it necessary.

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In severe cases where traditional treatment such as manual adjustments or reduction fails then surgery has to be considered. This will likely happen when there are severe deformities and ligament damage. This procedure involves joining the bones back together in their proper position while also repairing damaged ligaments.

Physical Therapy:

This is crucial for hastening the recovery process. It includes procedures such as;

  • Joint mobilization
  • Ultrasound
  • Fixing braces
  • Soft tissue massages
  • Cold or hot compresses
  • Exercises that increase strength
  • Modifying daily activities

To aid and hasten the healing process, exercises have to be done. These involve both strengthening and stretching exercises.

Stretching Exercises:


This involves bending the wrist forward till the stretch is painless. It is done for 6 seconds in three sets of 10.


This is the bending of the wrist backwards till the stretch is painless. It is also done for 6 seconds in three sets of 10.

Side Movements:

The wrist is bent side to side till it is painless for about 5 seconds in each direction in 2 sets of fifteen.

Wrist Extension Stretches:

This is done by straightening the elbow and placing fingers on an object with palms facing downwards. Bodyweight pressure is applied for about 20 seconds to stretch the wrist.

Wrist Flexion Stretches:

Similarly, this is done by straightening the elbow and placing fingers on an object with palms facing upwards. Bodyweight pressure is applied for about 20 seconds to flex the wrist.

Palm Rotations:

This is done by placing the elbow at right angles and rotating the palms for about 10 seconds in each direction.

Strengthening Exercises:

Wrist Flexion:

Here, a reasonable weight is held with the palm facing upwards while bending the wrist. The weight is reduced gradually after some moments.

Wrist Extension:

Weight is held with the palm facing downwards while bending the wrist. It is gradually decreased with time as well.

A Squeeze of a Flexible Ball:

Squeezing a flexible ball in 10 sets of 10 seconds can strengthen the wrist and hasten recovery.

Resistance Wrist Flexion:

A resistance is placed over the fingers with the palm facing upwards; the fingers and wrist are then curled upward to tighten the forearm muscles.

Resistance Wrist Extension:

A resistance is placed over the fingers with the palm facing downwards; the fingers and wrist are then curled upward to tighten the forearm muscles.

Resistance Radial Deviation:

Here a resistance is placed over the fingers with the thumb facing upwards the wrist is then curled upward to tighten the forearm muscles.

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