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Wrist Pain

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23 Aug, 2018

Wrist pain is any kind of a pain in the wrist, short term or long term and can be caused due to multiple reasons, such as trauma or injury to the wrist, gout, arthritis and the carpal tunnel syndrome. These causes are explained in detail as follows:



  • Wrist injury: Wrist injuries arise due to broken bones, muscle sprains, and tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons).
  • Gout: It is caused by an accumulation of excess uric acid in the joints, that leads to painful swelling. Gout is mainly caused by binge drinking alcohol, certain diuretics, overeating etc.
  • Arthritis: It is an inflammation of the joints that can cause swelling and stiffness in the affected part of the body. The most common types include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: It occurs when the median nerve (one of the major nerves) in the forearm is squeezed. It is located on the palm side of your hand, providing sensation to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. The increased pressure in the area causes painful swelling near the wrist. 
  • Kienbock's disease: In this disorder, one of the small bones in the wrist progressively starts to break, resulting in pain. This occurs when the blood flow to these bones is compromised.



  • Numbness, pain or tingling sensation in the hands
  • swollen fingers
  • swelling or redness around the wrist
  • difficulty in balling your palm into a fist
  • losing grip on objects
  • sudden, sharp hand pain
  • affected wrist feels warm



Physical examination:

  • Checking your wrist for any deformities, swelling or tenderness
  • Wrist moving exercises for gauging its extent of movement
  • Assessing the strength of your grip and forearm

Imaging tests

  • X-rays: The most common imaging technique, it can reveal bone fractures or signs of osteoarthritis.
  • Other techniques like MRI, CT scan or an ultrasound are used to help visualize the location of the ligaments, tendons, and cysts.


It is considered the gold standard for evaluating long-term wrist pain. In this technique, a small probe fitted with a light source and camera is inserted through a small nick inside your wrist.

Nerve tests

An Electromyogram (EMG) is carried out in case of carpal tunnel syndrome. This test measures the tiny electrical impulses produced in your muscles.



Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • wearing a wrist splint ease pain
  • applying ice pack in the affected area to reduce swelling
  • anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • In severe cases, surgery of the median nerve may be required to reduce pressure buildup in the area

Treatment for gout may consist of:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, e.g. ibuprofen
  • Drinking lots of water to reduce the concentration of uric acid
  • Avoiding high-fat foods and alcohol

Treatment for a wrist injury

  • wearing a wrist splint
  • keeping your wrist rested and elevated
  • anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • placing an ice pack on the affected area to reduce swelling

Treatment for arthritis is mainly the same as stated above for the other causes, but a visit to a physical therapist is highly recommended in order to learn special stretching and strengthening exercises for the wrist.