By Medicover Hospitals / 11 Feb 2021
Wrist pain is a common symptom and there are many possible causes, the most common of which is wrist sprain and tendonitis. When pain occurs, it can interfere with daily activities and even affect a person's quality of life.
- What is wrist pain?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is wrist pain?
Wrist pain is a common condition with several causes. The joint of the wrist plays a part in simple movements, from typing to writing. When pain occurs, it can interfere with daily activities and even affect a person's quality of life. The wrist is not a joint. Instead, it is made up of several small joints where the bones of the hand and forearm meet.
Wrist pain may develop because of sudden impact or injury. For example, a wrist sprain may cause discomfort when the ligament is overstretched. This type of wrist pain usually appears suddenly when the injury occurs. Here we will explore common causes, signs, and treatment options.
Carpal tunnel syndrome:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder that happens as the ligament thickens and places strain on the nerve. The nerve is compressed, which can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand. People who are obese or have diabetes or arthritis are at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition is also related to repetitive work that involves lifting, writing, or using equipment that vibrates the hand.
Osteoarthritis causes inflammation of the joints and occurs when the cartilage that covers the bones wears down. The disease can involve a wide variety of joints, including the wrist. Osteoarthritis of the wrist occurs more frequently in middle-aged or older people and those with a family history of the condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system breaks down healthy tissues. This can cause pain in the wrist if the joints in the area are affected.
A wrist fracture is a common orthopedic injury. This can occur due to bone injury or weakness, as with osteoporosis. A scaphoid fracture causes swelling, pain, and tenderness in the area just below the base of the thumb (called an anatomical snuffbox). The pain can be worse when a person tries to pinch or grab something.
Bursa is small fluid-filled sacs that help cushion the joints. When these become inflamed, it is known as bursitis. These can occur in many parts of the body, including the wrist. Symptoms include tenderness in the tendons of the wrist, redness in the region, and swelling.
This source of wrist pain is caused by fluid-filled soft tissue cysts, which mostly form on the wrist opposite the palm, but occur on the palm side of the wrist. Smaller cysts often hurt more than large cysts.
Typically, a wrist sprain results from dropping and twisting the wrist back as the hand hits the ground. This movement stretches the ligament too much.
Injury to the wrist may also cause pain. Wrist fractures include spinal cord, broken bones, and tendonitis. Swelling, bruising, or disfigured joints near the wrist can be signs of a wrist injury. Some wrist injuries can occur immediately because of trauma from an impact. Others can develop slowly.
Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid. Uric acid is a chemical that is produced when your body breaks down the food that contains organic compounds called purines. Most of the uric acid dissolves in the blood and is eliminated from the body by urinating. Sometimes, however, the body makes too much uric acid. Excess uric acid can deposit in the joints, causing pain and swelling. This pain occurs frequently in the knees, ankles, wrists, and feet.
Wrist tendonitis can occur when the tendons in the wrist grow small tears or become swollen and inflamed. The condition usually occurs due to repetitive movements that involve the wrist.
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and prescribe some tests to assess your wrist pain. Your doctor can do:
After a physical examination and review of symptoms, a doctor can also diagnose wrist pain and the underlying condition by:
- bend the wrist forward for 60 seconds to see if numbness or tingling occurs
- touch the area above the median nerve to see if pain occurs
- ask him to hold objects to test his grip
Invasive diagnostic techniques are usually only used after rest, and recovery from injury has been unsuccessful.
- Explorations of medical imaging, including X-ray, CT scan, and an MRI.
- Arthroscopy: This procedure involves a small cut in the wrist. A small instrument that has a small camera attached is inserted through the cut. The images from the camera are then projected onto a computer monitor for the doctor to view.
- Nerve conduction studies: This measures how fast nerve impulses travel through the carpal tunnel region of the wrist.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include:
Treatment of gout may consist of:
- wear a wrist brace or splint to reduce swelling and relieve wrist pain
- apply hot or cold compresses for 10 to 20 minutes at a time
- take anti-inflammatory or pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- have surgery to repair the median nerve, in severe cases
If you have suffered a wrist injury, you can help promote healing by:
- taking anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- drink plenty of water to reduce the uric acid concentration
- cut down on high-fat foods and alcohol
- take the medicine your doctor prescribes to lower uric acid in your circulatory system
If you have arthritis, consider seeing a physiotherapist. Physical therapy will teach you how to exercise strength and stretching that will support your hand.
- wear a wrist splint
- rest your wrist and keep it elevated
- take a mild pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- place an ice pack on the affected area for several minutes at a time to reduce swelling and pain
When to visit a Doctor?
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- You cannot move your wrist, hand, or finger.
- Your wrist, hand, or fingers are deformed.
- You are bleeding a lot
- Fever over 100 ° F (37.7 ° C)
- Swelling and redness of the wrist and you have had a recent illness (such as a virus or other infection).
- Swelling, redness, or stiffness in one or both wrists
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in painful wrist, hand, or fingers
- You lost muscle mass in your wrist, hand, or fingers.
- You still have pain even after following self-care treatments for 2 weeks
The following home remedies can help relieve wrist pain:
- rest the affected hand and wrist for at least 2 weeks
- use of anti-vibration products with vibrating tools
- wear a wrist splint or brace to rest the median nerve
- do gentle stretching exercises for the hands, fingers, and wrists
- massage the wrists, palms, and the back of the hands
- wear work gloves to protect hands and wrists
- apply heat to the wrist to help reduce pain
- use an ice pack, which can also help decrease swelling
- add additional material to tool and utensil handles for a more comfortable grip
- take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
Frequently Asked Questions:
Most cases of hand and wrist pain will not be a sign of a serious or long-term problem and will resolve in a few days or weeks with simple self-care that you can do at home.
Extend your arms in front of you and then flex your wrists, letting your hands hang for about 60 seconds. You may have carpal tunnel syndrome if you experience tingling, numbness, or discomfort in your fingers within 60 seconds.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is not life threatening but may cause total and permanent damage to the median nerve, resulting in significant loss of control in the hand if left untreated.
By using apple cider vinegar for nerve pain, you can reduce the swelling caused by nerve pain itself. It is not a cure, but it can ease the pain when you are in difficult situations.
SAGE magazines - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/036354658901700301
The New Medicine Magazine - https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcp013018
Radiology - https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiology.173.3.2813777