Dislocated Wrist: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & Recovery

As a person, you are at risk of a lot of environmental hazards, and you can be in the wrong location at the wrong time. Some of the most common problems that individuals get from different kinds of activities are dislocated wrist.

When you have a dislocated wrist, it is just like having a broken arm. Some of the symptoms a person may experience include severe pain, numbness, swelling of the affected region, and tenderness etc.

What is a dislocated wrist?

The human wrist contains 8 small bones, also known as Carpals; ligament holds them together and allows for motion. Dislocated wrist results from when there is a tear in any of these ligaments; which can lead to 2 or more of your carpal bones being displaced from their usual position.

Dislocated Wrist, Dislocated Wrists, Dislocated Wrist Symptomps

Types of Dislocated Wrists.

Wrist dislocations have different types, which are;

  1. Anterior lunate dislocation:

Refers to the condition while the other wrist bones remain a position, the lunate bone rotates.

  1. Perilunate dislocation.

Perilunate dislocations are complex injuries to the small bones of your wrist. They usually occur as a significant injury like from an automobile collision or from a fall (particularly a fall from a height or sport falls).

Symptoms of a perilunate dislocation Include:

  • Severe pain in the palm or the wrist
  • Numbness and tingling of the fingers
  • Swelling of the hand
  • Restricted motion of the hand and wrist
  1. Galeazzi fracture

Galeazzi fracture is an injury to the radius bone with dislocation of distal radioulnar joint and also an intact ulna.

  1. Monteggia fracture

Monteggia fracture was named after Giovanni Battista Monteggia. It is the dislocation of the (PRUJ)- proximal radioulnar joint with a forearm dislocation; usually a fracture of the ulna.

What Bones Are In The Wrist Joint?

Below are the bones which make up the wrist joint, they are:

  1. The Ulnar bone
  2. The Radius Bone
  3. The Carpal bones; which are arranged in 2 rows. The bones in the row closer to the forearm are the:
  • Lunate
  • Scaphoid
  • Pisiform
  • Triquetrium

And the second-row carpal bones which are:

  • Capitate
  • Trapezium
  • Trapezoid
  • Hamate

4. 5 metacarpal bones (the bones found in the hand)


Dislocated Wrist Symptoms?

Most wrist dislocations usually involve either a perilunate fracture or an anterior lunate dislocation.

The main symptoms of a dislocated wrist are swelling of the affected region and severe pain. The pain usually gets worse when an impacted person tries to move the wrist in any direction.

You may notice the following:

  1. Tenderness
  2. Intense pain
  3. Swelling
  4. Bruising or discoloration
  5. A decrease in Temperature around the dislocated part
  6. Numbness or tingling.
  7. Joint instability

What are the causes of a Dislocated wrist?

Any types of traumatic injury to your arm or hand can lead to a dislocated wrist. Common causes include:

  1. Falls from height
  2. Car accidents
  3. Contact sports (sport injuries) such as hockey and football
  4. The strain on the ligaments in your wrist (like heavy lifting)
  5. Occupational injuries

How is it diagnosed?

To avoid making the injury worse, if you think you have some wrist injury, consult your doctor immediately or head to urgent care.

The first your doctor will do is by moving your wrist in different directions to know the extent of your pain.

By doing so,  it will be so easy for the doctor to determine which bones or ligaments are involved. An examination to the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons which connect the wrist and hand will be done by your doctor.

Your doctor is likely to take an X-ray of your forearm and hand to confirm a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is questioned or not clear An MRI or A CT scan can be used.

What Is the Treatment options?

A procedure called a REDUCTION is usually used in treating mild dislocations. In this procedure, your bones are gently repositioned into their proper positions by your doctor. Depending on how serious your condition is; it can be quite painful. Local or general anesthesia will be used beforehand to help with the pain.

The best way to treat a dislocated wrist is by wearing a cast. Following the procedure, you will need to wear a cast or splint. The cast will prevent unnecessary motions which can worsen this ailment.

Dislocated Wrist, Dislocated Wrists, Dislocated Wrist Symptomps

However, there are instances when a person still feel pain even after the cast has been removed. Know that; it will take some time like 3 to 4 month before your wrist recovers completely, depending on the severity of the dislocation. Therefore, you need to be patient about it.

For more severe cases, a surgical procedure is needed to stabilize the bones to allow for adequate and proper healing. The dislocations are usually gripped using pins or screws which come through the skin and will be later removed in the office.

Also, Exercises are recommended by your physiotherapist to increase motion as well as strengthen weak muscles at the wrist joint. some of the exercises are;

  1. Grip Strengthening Exercises: This is done by using a rolled up towel or a soft ball. Squeezing this balls strengthens the muscles in the wrist and the hand.
  2. Wrist Extension Exercises: It is the reverse of the wrist flexion exercises.
  3. Wrist Flexion Exercises: This is done to strengthen the muscles

How to do Wrist flexion Exercises:

  • Place your hand on a table on a rolled-up towel or on your thigh with your palm facing the roof and your wrist hanging at the edge of the table or knee
  • Bend your wrist till your palm is facing your position
  • Return to the starting position

4. Side Bend Exercises: Side bend exercises involves moving your wrist from side to side.

Simple Home Remedies and care.

  1. Place an ice pack on your wrist for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Do this every 2 to 3 hours for the next 3 days. Put a thin cloth between your cast and the ice.
  2. Follow the doctor’s instructions on how to wear the cast.
  3. Take pain medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your doctor doesn’t specify any pain medication; don’t do self-medication.
  4. Support your wrist with a pillow when you sit or lie down. Do this in the first few days after the injury. To reduce swelling; keep your wrist above the level of your heart.

Dislocated Wrist, Dislocated Wrists, Dislocated Wrist Symptomps

How long will it Heal?

The severity of the dislocation depends on the healing time. For mild dislocation, which involves reduction procedure; a person should recover within 2 to 4 months. However, dislocation, which involves surgery it might take 4 months to 1 year for you to fully recover.

You may need to hire a physical therapist and perform gentle exercises on your own as you are recovering. Also, avoid putting pressure on your hand or wrist while you recover.

When should I call a Doctor?

Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following;

  1. You have intense or perhaps increasing pain
  2. You do not get better as expected.
  3. You cannot move your fingers.
  4. Your fingers turn pale, cold change color.
  5. You experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in your fingers and hands.
  6. You have problems with the brace or cast.
  7. You have a new fever.
  8. The cast or brace feels too tight
  9. There is a bad smell or fluid coming from the brace or cast
  10. Unexpected swelling near the cast
  11. wrist deformity
  12. re-occuring swelling


Any wrist ailments can affect your daily life. This is why it’s vital to seek immediate treatment options for any wrist issue; while recovering, avoid putting pressure on your wrists such as playing hockey or heavy lifting.

Either mild dislocation or severe dislocation it needs time to heal, all it needs is patience. You will also need to wear your wrist brace or cast while you recover.

Also Read: Top Natural Remedies for Tennis Elbow