What is a torn ligament in the wrist called?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

A torn ligament in the wrist is commonly referred to as a scapholunate tear. This particular injury occurs when the ligament that connects the scaphoid and lunate bones in the wrist becomes damaged or completely torn. The scapholunate ligament is crucial for maintaining the stability and proper alignment of these two bones. When it is injured, the bones can shift out of their normal position, leading to a range of problems.

If a scapholunate tear is left untreated, it can have long-term consequences. One of the most significant risks is the development of arthritis in the wrist joint. Without the ligament to hold the scaphoid and lunate bones in place, the joint experiences abnormal stress and wear. Over time, this can lead to the breakdown of cartilage and the development of arthritis, causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.

To prevent arthritis and alleviate pain, treatment of a scapholunate tear is essential. While some minor tears may heal with conservative measures, such as immobilization and physical therapy, most significant tears require surgical intervention. In surgery, the torn ligament may be repaired, or in some cases, a graft from another part of the body may be used to reconstruct the ligament. The specific procedure will depend on the severity of the tear and the individual’s unique circumstances.

After surgery, a period of immobilization and rehabilitation is typically necessary to allow for proper healing. This may involve wearing a splint or cast for several weeks to protect the wrist and prevent further damage. Physical therapy exercises will also be prescribed to gradually restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the wrist.

It is worth noting that scapholunate tears are often the result of traumatic injuries, such as a fall on an outstretched hand. However, repetitive stress or overuse of the wrist can also contribute to the development of this condition. Athletes, particularly those involved in sports that involve repetitive wrist movements, may be at a higher risk.

In my experience as a healthcare provider, I have seen patients with scapholunate tears face significant challenges. The pain and instability in the wrist can greatly impact their daily lives, hindering their ability to perform simple tasks or participate in activities they enjoy. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are crucial to prevent long-term complications and improve quality of life.

A torn ligament in the wrist is known as a scapholunate tear. This injury can lead to arthritis if left untreated, as the bones of the wrist lose their normal alignment. Treatment aims to reduce pain and prevent the development of arthritis. Surgery may be required for more severe tears, followed by immobilization and rehabilitation. Early intervention is key to achieving the best possible outcome for individuals with this condition.