FAQs on Wrist Pain
Wrist pain is the most reported occupational illness in the United States associated with repetitive strain injury. Hand and wrist pain lead to about 200,000 non-fatal occupational injuries every year, claims the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Traced to a variety of medical reasons, it saps vitality of your hand leading to weakness and restricted activities.
What is wrist pain?
Pain, discomfort, or any condition leading to soreness in the wrist preventing its unrestricted use is categorized as wrist pain. A dolorous wrist prevents you from using your hand and even the pain worsens with stress on the wrist.
The source of wrist pain is traced to repeated strain caused by “too strong a functional demand.” Wrist injury, including forcibly bending or blow, tendonitis, arthritis, injured wrist bones, or the carpal tunnel syndrome may lead to wrist pain.
What are the symptoms of wrist pain?
- Dull, achy, intermittent, severe, or constant pain in the wrist
- Pain worsens when trying to flex or unbend the wrist
- Swelling and tenderness around the wrist
- Presence of discoloration and warmth in the wrist area
- Bruising, numbness, or tingling in the wrist
- Worsening pain even while resting
- Restricted ability to grip or carry things
What are the structures involved in wrist pain?
The complicated anatomy of the wrist is one of the factors in causing painful conditions. The wrist structure comprises of eight complex carpal bones squeezed into the carpal tunnel, five metacarpal bones, two retinaculums, a snuff box, and a series of joints, including radiocarpal joint or the wrist joint, where the radius meets the carpus. Ligaments and tendons provide support to these joints and the bones while nerves interconnect them.
All these structures are packed into a small space making it prone to injury. An injury to any of these structures due to stress or degeneration or medical condition results in wrist pain.
What are the causes of wrist pain?
- Activities: Forceful and repetitive tasks causing stress and overburden on the wrist.
- Wrist injury: Sudden blow, fractures, sprains, ligament tears, thumb bone fracture, inflammation of joint tissues
- Arthritis of the wrist: Degenerative osteoarthritis in cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis
- Other medical conditions: Carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts impacting soft tissues on the palm side, Kienbock’s disease or crumbling of wrist bones due to lack of blood supply, Preiser’s disease or scaphoid necrosis, thoracic outlet compression syndrome
- Neurologic disorders: Compression or injuries impacting the median nerve, radial nerve, and distal posterior interosseous nerve
- Systemic factors: Amyloidosis in the wrist, Guyon’s canal syndrome, metabolic disorders, such as gout, diabetes, and hypocalcemia, osteomyelitis or bone inflammation, peripheral neuropathy, ulnar nerve entrapment
- Wrist tendonitis
Who are at the risk of wrist pain?
Wrist pain is more likely to impact those engaged in weight lifting, typing, drawing, writing, or sewing. Obesity also put people at the risk due to potential gouty arthritis affecting the wrist.
When to see a doctor?
Minor wrist sprains heal with self-care. You should visit a doctor if the pain continues over a few days and worsens leading to trouble in gripping. Swelling in the wrist or fingers, worsening sudden pain, and wrist stiffness are other indications for immediate wrist pain treatment.
How is wrist pain diagnosed?
Your doctor examines the wrist for physical symptoms. The wrist is bent to test numbness or tapped to verify pain on the median nerve. Grip test is another way to check the wrist pain. An x-ray of the test may be recommended to check fractures in the wrist bones and joints. There may be electromyography for nerve conduction and fluid test for crystals or calcium in the wrist.
What are the treatment methods available for wrist pain?
- Medication: Wrist pain and swelling can be reduced by taking anti-inflammatory medicines and steroid painkillers. Muscle relaxant gels applied to the pain area also helps.
- Self-care: Regular ice therapy or use of heating pad is beneficial. Rest is the foremost condition to allow pain to subside. Avoid activities that worsen pain.
- Braces and Splints: These orthopedic devices rescue the wrist from further stress and strain while allowing it to heal.
- Physical Therapy: Exercises help in post-injury rehabilitation and wrist strength restoration and overcoming of functional limitations.
- Epidural Steroid Injection: Corticosteroid and local anesthetic injections are used for semi-permanent pain relief.
- Prolotherapy: The regenerative therapy administered through platelet rich plasma or stem cells injections help restoration of damaged tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.
- Surgery: Surgical treatment is resorted to when the wrist pain is caused by broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, or complete ligament rupture.
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