A hand sprain is a common injury that occurs when the ligaments that support the bones in the hand are stretched or torn. The ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect the bones together and help to stabilize the joints. A hand sprain can occur when the hand is suddenly forced into an awkward position, such as when catching a falling object or during a fall.

What Are the Causes of Hand Sprains?

The most common cause of a hand sprain is an injury to the wrist. The wrist is a common site of injury because it is used in many activities. The ligaments in the wrist can be stretched or torn when the wrist is bent too far back or to the side.

Other causes of hand sprains include:

  • Falling on an outstretched hand
  • Catching a ball with the palm of the hand
  • Direct blow to the hand
  • Jamming a finger

What Are the Symptoms of Hand Sprains?

The most common symptom of a hand sprain is pain. This pain can range from mild to severe and is often worse with movement. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

You must see a doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms. They can examine your hand and determine the severity of the injury.

How Is a Hand Sprain Diagnosed?

There are several different ways that healthcare providers can diagnose a hand sprain. The first step is usually taking a medical history and physical examination. Your healthcare provider will ask about how the injury occurred and if you’re experiencing any pain, swelling, or other symptoms.

They will also gently move your hand and fingers around to see if there is any tenderness or decreased range of motion. X-rays may also be ordered to rule out any fractures.

In some cases, an MRI may be needed to get a more detailed look at the ligaments. This is usually only necessary if the healthcare provider suspects a more serious injury, such as a tear. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your healthcare provider will develop a treatment plan. 

How Do You Treat a Hand Sprain?

If you have a mild hand sprain, you may be able to treat it at home with the RICE method:

  • Rest: Take a break from activities that put stress on your hand.
  • Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes, several times a day.
  • Compression: Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Raise your hand above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling.

You may need to see a doctor if you have a more severe hand sprain. Treatment may include:

  • Splinting or casting: A splint or cast will immobilize your hand to allow the ligaments to heal.
  • Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to help regain your hand’s range of motion and strength.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligaments.

After the ligaments have healed, you will need to ease back into activities slowly. Be sure to warm up and stretch before participating in any activity, and stop if you start to feel pain. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, you should be able to return to your normal activities.


Healing from a hand sprain can be a difficult and painful process. However, most people can recover fully with proper care and rehabilitation. It is important to seek medical attention immediately after the injury to ensure the best possible outcome. 

Need a hand specialist? At North Florida Hand and Wrist Center, we have you covered. Led by Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, we provide patients with the best care for their hand and wrist issues. Book an appointment with us at North Florida Hand and Wrist Center to help your hand and wrist feel better.