What are the ligaments of the wrist?
Wrist ligaments are the connective tissues that perform the function of connecting bones together, holding them together in a joint. In the wrist, the most frequently injured ligament is the scapholosemilunar ligament, although there are many others.
The scapholunate ligament is located between the lunate bone and the scaphoid. Another common ligament injury is the triangular fibrocartilage complex.
Function of the wrist ligaments
The function of the wrist ligaments is to stabilize the carpus in the sagittal and frontal planes.
- Sagittal plane: home to the downward and forward orientation of the glenode.
- Frontal plane: the function is necessary due to the orientation of the antebrachial glenoid.
Specifically, the function of the scapholosemilunar ligament is to prevent the scaphoid and lunate bones from separating when making a fist or rotating the forearm while bearing weight with the hand.
The ligaments of the wrist stabilize the carpus in the sagittal and frontal planes.
Pathologies that can suffer the ligaments of the wrist
When part of the scapholunate ligament is damaged, it is a sprain (the most frequent wrist injury). On the other hand, if the damage is more severe, it may rupture completely and cause a rupture.
If we focus on the sprain, it is defined as a ligament strain, caused by a fall or bad gesture that can cause swelling and wrist pain. At this moment, the ligament is stretched, causing a partial or total rupture and generating inflammation of the ligament.
Sprains can be differentiated into grade 1 (strain without rupture), grade 2 (partial rupture) and grade 3 (rupture of the ligament).
Treatments for wrist ligament pathologies
First of all, partial tears can be treated with analgesia and rest. Depending on the case, a protective splint can be used for comfort for a period of 2 to 6 weeks. In turn, physiotherapy can be useful to recover range of motion and strength, provided that the symptomatology allows it.
If conservative treatment does not work, or if the rupture is complete (diagnosed by X-ray), a surgical approach is necessary. The surgery can be open or by arthroscopy and, once operated, it should take approximately 6 months to be able to bear weight on the wrist again.
Secondly, for the treatment of sprains, physiotherapy can be an effective solution. In this sense, therapeutic exercises are the basis of treatment, while manual therapy serves as a complement in recovery. The most frequent treatment is usually based on immobilization of the wrist by means of a splint or cast. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.
Specialist who treats wrist ligament pathology
The specialist in pathology of the ligaments of the wrist is the Traumatologist. An expert in Physical Therapy can also help in some pathologies.