. Wrist Sprain - TFCC Injury | Advanced Hand Centre Singapore

Wrist Ligament Injuries

The eight carpal bones of the wrist also known as “carpus” are held together by ligaments. When there is an injury to the ligament, e.g. isolated sprain or dislocation, it may result in your wrist becoming unstable. Ligament injuries to the wrist may be partial or complete. Most complete injuries cause instability, pain upon gripping and loading of the wrist.


Wrist ligament injuries, also known as carpal ligament injuries, can lead to post-traumatic arthritis as the bones of the carpus are tightly tethered to each other.

Wrist Ligament Injuries


The bones in our hands have complex geometry to allow them to remain in contact even when the hands are moving. However, this offers very little bone congruity and thus less stability of the joints, as compared to the hip. As such, ligaments are needed to secure these bone-to-bone connections. The ligaments of the carpus are categorised as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”. Intrinsic ligaments connect carpal bones together, whereas extrinsic ligaments connect the carpal bone to either the radius or the ulna. 


Injuries to the carpal ligaments will cause the bones to separate, disrupting normal contact points. This eventually leads to focal load bearing and breakdown of the articular cartilage. With time this may result in wrist arthritis. 



Patients suffering from wrist ligament injuries may complain of swelling, bruising and in some cases numbness or tingling in the fingers and affected area. Other symptoms include: 

  • Dull pain that lasts for a long time
  • Sharp pain when moving the wrist in certain directions
  • Clicking or snapping sensation near the side of the affected wrist 
  • Stiffness with wrist movement
  • Weakness with gripping or squeezing motions


It is advisable to seek medical treatment if you experience any of the symptoms above. 



When you visit a hand specialist, they will conduct a physical examination by asking you to perform certain actions or placing pressure on the area of the wrist. They will also take a detailed medical history and order tests such as x-rays, MRI, ultrasound or a CT scan.




A doctor putting bandage to a patien's hand


The treatment options are usually dependent on the type of wrist ligament injuries. Most hand specialists will start with conservative treatment such as occupational therapy, lifestyle modification, as well as, wrist brace. Other treatments include the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections into the wrist to reduce inflammation. Surgery is only recommended in severe cases when conservative treatments are ineffective. You should speak to your hand surgeon to understand the treatment options available to you. 


Every case is different, hence it is best to consult a hand surgeon to determine the treatment method that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you are suffering from wrist instability and let us help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many causes of wrist pain and one of them is after sustaining a wrist ligament injury from an isolated sprain or dislocation.

Wrist ligament injuries can be categorised into three grades:

  • Grade 1 – ligaments are stretched but not torn
  • Grade 2 – ligaments are partially torn and may result in some loss of function
  • Grade 3 – ligaments are completely torn and require surgical care

A wrist injury that seems mild with minimal swelling could still involve a torn ligament, so it is recommended to get it checked by a doctor as early as possible to prevent your condition from worsening.

You may try the RICE method:

  • Rest – try not to use the injured hand for at least 48 hours
  • Ice – apply ice to the injury to keep the swelling down
  • Compression – wear an elastic compression bandage to reduce swelling
  • Elevation – rest with your wrist raised higher than heart level

It is advisable to see a doctor if the symptoms do not improve.

Ligaments can naturally heal on their own but making activity changes and getting timely treatments will help to make the process quicker and more predictable. However, for more severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair the torn ligament. It is advisable to get it checked by a hand specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment method.

Other Conditions



Get back to doing what you love

We promise to deliver excellence in patient care with the most advanced and up to date treatments. Our goal is to relieve pain and improve quality of life for all our patients by restoring hand and upper extremity function.

Enquire Now