What to do about Wrist Pain

Your hand and wrist are small yet complex joints. Since they are used so much in sports and everyday life, the risk of an injury is high. Also, with age, the joints of our wrists and fingers are often affected by arthritis.

Wrist pain is very common and often caused by fractures or sprains from sudden injuries. Wrist pain can also result from long-term problems such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress. Since there are many factors that can lead to wrist pain, it can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause. But it is crucial to get an accurate diagnosis in order to treat wrist pain properly and effectively.

Wrist Pain Common Causes & Symptoms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome—carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your median nerve gets compressed at the wrist due to swelling. Swelling may be caused by repetitive movements with your wrist such as typing, painting or writing. Symptoms may include aching, burning, numbness or tingling in palm, wrist, thumb or fingers. The thumb muscle may become weak, making it difficult to grasp things. Sometimes the wrist pain may extend up to your elbow.
  • Wrist Injury—wrist injuries often occur when you fall forward onto your outstretched hand—a sudden impact injury. Wrist pain may be a sign of an injury which can include the following common wrist injuries:
    • Broken bone
    • Sprain
    • Strain
    • Tendonitis
    • Bursitis

Symptoms of a wrist injury may include:

  • Inability to carry objects
  • Wrist pain that occurs at night or while resting
  • Wrist pain that persists beyond a few days
  • Inability to straighten or flex the joint
  • Swelling or significant bruising around the joint or forearm
  • Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth
  • Osteoarthritis—this type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the end of your bones deteriorates over time.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis—a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, commonly found in the wrist.


How Hand Therapy May Help Wrist Pain

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If your wrist pain is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, physical therapy may help through exercises, manual therapy, ultrasound, or splints.

Wrist Injury. Hand therapy may help your wrist pain caused by an injury by increasing your strength and ability to move through exercise, relieving wrist pain and stiffness with manual therapy or controlling the wrist pain with warm or cold therapeutic treatments or electrical stimulation.

Osteoarthritis. Your hand therapist will design an individualized treatment program to help improve your range of motion, muscle strength, manual therapy, bracing or ice and heat to aid in wrist pain management.

Rheumatoid Arthritis. Hand therapy can help heal and strengthen a body part or area that is causing your wrist pain. Treatment may include heat, ice, electrical stimulation, range of motion exercises, strengthening moves and more to ease swelling and inflammation.

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