Wrist Pain (Wrist Strain, injury, or Open Wrist)

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What is Wrist Pain?
The human wrist has 8 carpal bones. These small bones are just above the hand and are held together with tendons and ligaments. Pain in this area can be caused by injury from overuse of the wrist or actual blunt force to the wrist. Wrist pain may occur in case of disease as well which can be diagnosed by a physician.

Types of Wrist Pain:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome- a painful condition of the hand and wrists that may be caused by repetitive motion or fluid retention
  • Arthritis- joint pain or joint disease
  • Tendonitis-swelling or irritation of a tendon
  • Bursitis-a painful condition that affects the joints because the Bursae sacs become inflamed.
  • Cysts- occur within almost any type of tissue, cysts can vary in size from microscopic to large structures, cysts are closed capsules usually filled with fluid or gaseous materials
  • Sprains- an injury to one or more ligaments in which they are stretched or torn

Causes of Wrist Pain:
Wrist pain can occur when there is over use or long periods of motionlessness of the wrist joint. Activities that could aggravate the wrist joint are racket sports, typing, hand writing, painting, skiing, climbing ladders, and shoveling to name a few. Wrist pain caused by bursitis, tendonitis, and arthritis might not be avoidable, but rest, ice, and light massage can help manage the discomfort.

Symptoms of Wrist Pain:
Wrist pain does not always just affect the wrist. It can affect the hand, fingers, and lower arm as well. Wrist pain symptoms are as follows:

  • Swollen fingers
  • Trouble making a fist or gripping objects
  • Sensations of numbness and tingling in the hands
  • Pain, numbness, and tingling gets worse at night
  • Sudden sharp pain in the hand or wrist
  • Swelling and/or redness around the wrist
  • Wrist and hand may feel warm to the touch

Avoiding Wrist Pain:
The following activities can help to avoid some types of wrist pain:

  • Using a mouse pad and keyboard with a wrist pad on it
  • Limiting activities that cause wrist pain to every other day, if possible
  • Taking frequent breaks during activities that cause wrist pain

Treatments for Wrist Pain:
Wrist pain can be treated easily with over-the- counter remedies. These items include:

  • Wrist brace or splint- wearing these will reduce any swelling and ease wrist pain
  • Hot or cold compresses- apply compress for 10 to 20 minutes at a time
  • Anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications

Wrist pain that is severe may require surgery to repair carpels, tendons, or ligaments. A physician must diagnose a condition that would require surgery. Long term to lifetime wrist pain, often caused by arthritis would require physical/occupational therapy along with daily exercises. These exercises could include the following:

  • With a closed fist, slowly open hand and stretch the fingers out as far as possible and then slowly close to fist position again
  • Rotate in one direction a finger at a time ending with the thumb
  • Touch the thumb to each finger
  • Wrist circles, slow yet wide

Wrist pain can be very uncomfortable and inhibit daily activities as well as work. Usually it just takes time for the wrist to heal. It is important to pay attention to the needs of the body and joints. If it hurts, don’t do it.

If you have concerns about severe or chronic wrist pain, contact one of our physicians to schedule an appointment.

General Surgeons

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