Wrist pain is often caused by sprains or broken bones resulting from sudden injuries. But wrist pain can also result from long-term issues, like repetitive stress, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
As many factors can lead to wrist pain, it can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause. But an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment and cure.
- 1 Wrist Pain Symptoms
- 2 When to consult a doctor
- 3 Causes of wrist pain
- 4 Risk factors that cause or amplify wrist pain
- 5 How to prevent the occurrence of wrist pain
- 6 wrist pain treatment
- 7 wrist pain therapy
- 8 Surgery
Wrist Pain Symptoms
Wrist pain can vary depending on the cause. For example, osteoarthritis pain is often described as being similar to a persistent toothache. While carpal tunnel syndrome usually causes a tingling or tingling sensation, especially at night. The precise location of your wrist pain also provides clues to what is behind your symptoms.
When to consult a doctor
Not all wrist pain requires medical attention. Minor sprains and strains usually respond to ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain medications. But if the pain and swelling last more than a few days or get worse, see your doctor. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can lead to poor healing, reduced range of motion, and long-term disability.
Causes of wrist pain
Damage to any part of your wrist can cause pain and affect your ability to use your wrist and hand.
– Sudden impacts
Wrist injuries often occur when you fall forward onto your outstretched hand. This can cause sprains, strains and even broken bones. A scaphoid fracture involves a bone on the thumb side of the wrist. This type of fracture may not show up on x-rays immediately after the injury.
– Repetitive stress
Any activity involving repetitive wrist movements, whether it’s hitting a tennis ball, playing the cello, or cross-country, can inflame the tissues around the joints or cause stress fractures. Especially when you perform the movement for hours without a break. De Quervain’s disease is a repetitive stress injury that causes pain at the base of the thumb.
This type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage covering the ends of bones deteriorates over time. Osteoarthritis of the wrist is uncommon and usually only occurs in people who have injured that wrist in the past.
– Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. If one wrist is affected, the other is usually affected as well.
Other diseases and conditions
– Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when there is increased pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel, a passage located in the palm of the wrist.
– Ganglion cysts
These soft tissue cysts most often occur on the part of your wrist opposite your palm. Ganglion cysts can be painful, and the pain may get worse or better with activity.
– Kienbock disease
This disease usually affects young adults and involves the gradual collapse of one of the small bones in the wrist. Kienbock’s disease occurs when the blood supply to this bone is compromised.
Risk factors that cause or amplify wrist pain
Wrist pain can happen to anyone, whether you’re very sedentary, very active, or somewhere in between. But your risk may be increased by:
– The practice of a sport
Wrist injuries are common in many sports, whether those involving impact or those involving repetitive stress on the wrist. It can be football, bowling, golf, gymnastics, snowboarding and tennis.
– Repetitive work
Almost any activity that involves your hands and wrists, even knitting and haircutting, if done with enough force and frequency, can lead to disabling wrist pain.
– Certain illnesses or conditions
Pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout can increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
How to prevent the occurrence of wrist pain
It’s impossible to prevent the unforeseen events that often cause wrist injuries, but these basic tips can offer some protection:
– Strengthen bone strength
Adequate calcium intake, 1,000 milligrams per day for most adults and at least 1,200 milligrams per day for women over 50, can help prevent fractures.
– Prevent falls
Falling forward onto an outstretched hand is the leading cause of most wrist injuries. To prevent falls, wear suitable footwear. Eliminate household hazards. Light up your living space. And install grab bars in your bathroom and handrails on your stairs, if necessary.
– Use protective equipment for sports activities.
Wear wrist guards for high-risk activities, such as soccer, snowboarding, and rollerblading.
– Pay attention to ergonomics.
If you spend long periods in front of a keyboard, take regular breaks. When typing, keep your wrist in a neutral, relaxed position. An ergonomic keyboard and foam or gel wrist support can help.
wrist pain treatment
Treatments for wrist problems vary greatly depending on the type, location, and severity of the injury, as well as age and general health.
wrist pain therapy
A physical therapist can set up specific treatments and exercises for wrist injuries and tendon problems. If you need to have surgery, your physical therapist can also help you rehabilitate after the operation. You may also benefit from an ergonomic assessment that addresses workplace factors that may contribute to wrist pain.
If you have a broken bone in your wrist, the splints will need to be aligned for the bone to heal properly. A cast or splint can help hold the bone fragments together while they heal.
If you’ve sprained or strained your wrist, you may need to wear a splint to protect the injured tendon or ligament while it heals. Splints are especially useful for overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Here are some examples:
– Bone fractures. In some cases, surgery may be needed to stabilize bone fractures so they can heal. A surgeon may need to connect the bone fragments together using metal hardware.
– Carpal tunnel syndrome. If your symptoms are severe, you may need to have the ligament that forms the roof of the tunnel opened to relieve pressure on the nerve.
– Repair of the tendon or ligament. Surgery is sometimes needed to repair tendons or ligaments that have ruptured.