Definition

Wrist pain is pain located in the wrist, often caused by sprains or fractures from sudden injuries. It can cause long term problems such as repetitive stress, gout, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Due to the fact that there are many factors that can lead to wrist pain, identifying the exact cause can be difficult, however, an accurate diagnosis is vital for proper treatment.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms relating to wrist pain depend on the exact cause of the pain, as well as the location of the wrist pain. Symptoms can include:

  • Osteoarthritis pain: Dull pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Pain, numbness, tingling, swollen fingers, trouble making a fist
  • Gout: Sudden sharp pain, swelling or redness, warmth in a joint

 

Causes

The wrist is a complex joint, so any injury to the wrist can cause pain and affect the ability to use the wrist and hand. Wrist injuries include sprains, broken bones, and tendinitis.  The most common causes of wrist pain are:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: A condition in which swelling of the wrist tightens around the median nerve. This condition can occur due to overuse of the hand by performing repetitive tasks such as typing, drawing or writing.
  • Sudden impacts: Injuries that involve falling forward onto an outstretched hand (sprains, strains, fractures).
  • Osteoarthritis: A condition that involves weakening of the bones.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues (commonly involves the wrist).
  • De Quervain's disease: A repetitive stress injury that causes pain at the base of the thumb.
  • Ganglion cysts: Noncancerous lumps that often form on the tendons or joints of the wrists and hands.
  • Kienbock's disease: A condition in which the blood supply to one of the small bones in the wrist is disrupted.  

Risk factors

A few factors that can increase the risk of wrist pain include the following:

  • Participation in certain sports such as bowling, gymnastics, tennis, golf and snowboarding
  • Any activity that involves repetitive movement of the hand and may lead to overuse injury
  • Certain diseases or conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout

 

Treatment

Treatment options for wrist injuries typically depend on the location and severity of the injury, as well as an individual’s age and overall health.  

A few treatment options recommended for wrist pain include:

  • Over the counter pain relievers: Medications used to help reduce wrist pain and any other symptoms associated with it.
  • Physical therapy: A type of therapy that uses specific exercises designed to reduce wrist pain and tendon problems.
  • Immobilization: Wearing a cast or splint to help hold bone fragments together while they heal.

 

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Examples include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: A surgical procedure that involves cutting open the tunnel to alleviate pressure on the nerve.
  • Broken bones: A surgical procedure that involves linking the fragments of bone together with metal hardware.
  • Tendon or ligament repair: A surgical procedure that involves repairing tendons or ligaments that may have ripped open.

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Prevention

Although there is no sure way of preventing wrist injuries from happening, a few recommendations to help offer some protection include:

  • Building bone strength by getting enough calcium
  • Preventing falls by wearing proper foot attire
  • Using proper protective gear for sporting activities