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Dislocated Wrist: Care Instructions


Your wrist can be forced out of its normal position (dislocated) if you fall on it hard. This can happen in a crash or when playing sports.

When the wrist is dislocated, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves can be damaged. You may need more treatment.

The doctor put your wrist back in its normal position and may have put it in a cast or splint. This will help keep your wrist stable until your follow-up appointment.

You may need surgery because a dislocated wrist is usually also broken.

It may take weeks or months for your wrist to heal, depending on how bad the injury is.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your cast or splint. Keep your cast or splint dry.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for wearing a splint or cast.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Prop up your wrist on pillows when you sit or lie down in the first few days after the injury. Keep your wrist higher than the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe or increasing pain.
  • You have problems with your cast or splint. For example:
    • The skin under the cast or splint is burning or stinging.
    • The cast or splint feels too tight.
    • There is a lot of swelling near the cast or splint. But some swelling is expected.
    • You have a new fever.
    • There is drainage or a bad smell coming from the cast or splint.
  • You cannot move your fingers.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hand and fingers.
  • Your fingers turn cold or pale or change colour.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have problems with the cast or splint.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.