Orlando, Florida - A wrist sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments between bones in the wrist. It is often caused by falling on an outstretched hand, usually during sports or other activities. The symptoms of a wrist sprain are pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising at the site. Diagnosis of a wrist sprain is usually self-evident, however, an x-ray may be taken to rule out a fracture.
Numerous athletes have sprained their wrists at one point or another. Eduardo Nunez, Nicky Delmonico, and Nicholas Castellanos, are just the most recent examples of players who were placed on the disabled list for wrist sprains. Many wrist sprains are mild and heal on their own; however these injuries can be quite serious. One of the more high profile examples of an athlete who sustained a serious wrist sprain is Jerryd Bayless, point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers. Bayless actually suffered a wrist sprain just prior to starting with the Sixers, but it kept him from playing with the team for much of the 2016 season.
Mild wrist sprains are treated with rest, ice, and immobilization with bandages or splints. Indeed, most mild to moderate wrist sprains will heal on their own within two weeks with conservative therapy alone. Persistent pain or related symptoms generally warrants a trip to a sports medicine or orthopedic specialist. Severe sprains generally include a complete or partially torn ligament. Depending on circumstances, surgeons may be able to repair the torn ligament. Sadly for athletes, surgery is usually followed by many weeks of physical therapy rehabilitation. Patients may not be able to return to full activities for three to six months after surgery.
Since most wrist sprains generally heal with conservative therapy, many professional and elite athletes continually look for ways to speed up the natural healing process. Platelet rich plasma therapy may be one way to do just that. “In platelet rich plasma therapy, the body's natural healing factors present in blood are concentrated and injected into the wrist,” reports Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a sports medicine physician in Orlando, Florida and President of the American Regenerative Medicine Society. “Specifically, we draw a small quantity of the patient’s blood and separate the fraction that contains platelets, growth factors, and other components that the body uses to heal itself. This concentrate is then injected into the injured area to help accelerate the healing process.”
Research into the use of platelet rich plasma in wrist sprains is ongoing. Much of the enthusiasm for this research is based on results from ankle sprains, which are similar to wrist sprains. Patients with ankle sprains who were treated with platelet rich plasma reported less residual pain and faster return to play.1 Indeed, a single platelet rich plasma injection accelerated recovery and return to play among rugby players with an ankle sprain.2 While work is ongoing to study the effects of platelet rich plasma in wrist sprains, athletes such as Jerryd Bayless have used platelet rich plasma as part of their therapy regimen.
A wrist sprain is a painful stretching or tearing of the wrist ligaments. Mild to moderate sprains will usually heal within about two weeks with conservative therapy. During this time however, athletes are generally unable to return to play or even practice until the wrist heals. “Platelet rich plasma therapy may be able to accelerate the healing process and help players get back to their sport,” says Pirozzolo.
Dr. Jason Pirozzolo is the Director of Sports Medicine and Trauma at Orlando Hand Surgery Associates and Orlando Regenerative Medicine Center. He specializes in non-surgical orthopedic treatments, regenerative medicine and platelet rich plasma injections. He is also the President of The American Regenerative Medicine Society and serves on the Board of Governors at the Florida Medical Association and as a delegate to the American Medical Association.
- Laver L, Carmont MR, McConkey MO, et al. Plasma rich in growth factors (PRGF) as a treatment for high ankle sprain in elite athletes: a randomized control trial. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. Nov 2015;23(11):3383-3392. doi:10.1007/s00167-014-3119-x
2. Samra DJ, Sman AD, Rae K, Linklater J, Refshauge KM, Hiller CE. Effectiveness of a single platelet-rich plasma injection to promote recovery in rugby players with ankle syndesmosis injury. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2015;1(1):e000033. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2015-000033