American Hospital Blog

Wrist pain

Wrist pain

Wrist pain occurs from long-term problems like repetitive stress, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Sprains or fractures from sudden injuries also often result in wrist pain.
Although diagnosing the specific cause would be difficult, accurate diagnosis is vital for proper treatment and healing.

Understand the symptoms

Wrist pain symptoms differ based on the cause. Osteoarthritis pain is similar to a dull toothache; carpal tunnel syndrome is like a pins-and-needles feeling or a tingling sensation, especially at night. The exact location of the wrist pain may indicate the cause.

Consult the doctor

All wrist pains may not require medical attention as minor sprains can heal with ice, rest and over-the-counter pain medications. The persistent pain and swelling that lasts for over a few days and worsens with time may require doctor advice. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can cause poor healing, reduced range of motion and long-term disability.

Know the causes

Any damage caused to the wrist can lead to pain and affect the ability to use the wrist and hand.

Injuries

• Wrist injuries often occur due to falling forward onto the outstretched hand, which may strain and cause fractures. A scaphoid fracture comprises a bone on the thumb side of the wrist that will not show up on X-rays shortly after the injury.
• Activities involving repetitive wrist motion like hitting a tennis ball or bowing a cello to driving cross-country may swell the tissues around joints or cause stress fractures, mainly when these movements last for hours on end without a break.
Arthritis
• Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones to deteriorate over time. Osteoarthritis in the wrist is not usual and happens to people who have previously injured the wrist.
• Rheumatoid arthritis is a state when the body's immune system affects its tissues, mainly the wrists.

Other diseases and conditions

• Carpal tunnel syndrome happens due to increased pressure on the median nerve that moves into the carpal tunnel, a path in the palm side of the wrist.
• Ganglion cysts often happen on the part of the wrist opposite of the palm. It is a painful state that either worsens or improves with activity.
• Kienbock's disease affects young adults, causing the progressive collapse of small bones in the wrist due to blood supply in the bone being compromised.

Recognize the risks

Wrist pain can occur to anyone, including being very sedentary, very active, or a mix of both, but the risk is raised by:

• Sports participation, which requires repetitive strain on the wrist, are common causes of wrist injuries, such as football, bowling, golf, gymnastics, snowboarding and tennis.
• Repetitive work, which includes every activity involving your hands and wrists like knitting and cutting hair, can lead to disabling wrist pain.
• Certain diseases or conditions like pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout can raise the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Measures for prevention

These precautionary steps help prevent the unforeseen events that cause wrist injuries:

• Build bone strength with adequate amounts of calcium — 1,000 milligrams a day suited for most adults and 1,200 milligrams for women over age 50 to prevent fractures.
• Wear comfortable shoes, remove home hazards, light up the living space to prevent falls.
• Use protective gear during athletic activities such as wrist guards when performing high-risk activities like football, snowboarding, and rollerblading.
• Use an ergonomic keyboard and foam or gel wrist support; take regular breaks when seated for long hours at a keyboard.

Patient Experience

Patients Share their Review