What Is Wrist Pain?
Wrist pain is a common medical problem that is typically caused by sprains or fractures from unexpected injuries. However, wrist pain can also result from long-standing issues, including carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or repetitive stress.
Due to the fact that such a wide variety of factors can result in wrist pain, diagnosing the precise cause can be difficult. Nonetheless, the correct diagnosis is critical for proper treatment.
The wrist is a complex joint that connects the hand to the forearm. It is composed of eight little bones positioned between the bones in the hand and forearm. Sturdy bands of ligaments connect the wristbands together, and to both the hand and forearm bones. In addition, tendons are present to attach the muscles to the bones.
The forearm contains two bones: the ulna and the radius. The bones of the wrist include the distal ends of the ulna and radius, 8 carpal bones, and the proximate portions of the 5 metacarpal bones (the bones of the fingers).
The severity and location of wrist pain vary depending on the cause. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome typically causes a pins-and-needles feeling, whereas osteoarthritis pain is commonly described as feeling like a dull toothache. The exact location of the pain in the wrist may also provide clues as to the root cause of pain.
Symptoms of wrist pain can vary depending on the cause, and include the following:
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the wrist that worsens at night
- Sharp or sudden hand pain
- Swollen fingers
- Swelling or redness at the wrist
- Difficulty gripping objects or making a fist
- Hand tingling or numbness
- Warmth in the wrist joint
Common causes of wrist pain include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Injuries, such as strains, sprains, fractures, or a repetitive stress injury
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ganglion cysts
- Kienbock’s disease
Treatment options for wrist problems vary to a great extent, depending on the type of wrist pain, severity of the injury, location of the pain, overall health, and age. They may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Prescription pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Temperature therapy
- Steroid injections
If there is a broken bone present in the wrist, the components will need to be realigned to heal properly, and then placed in a cast or splint for immobilization and protection from further injury. Similarly, if a strain or sprain is present, a splint may also be required to shield the injured tendon or ligament during the healing process.