There are many different causes for wrist pain, from sprains from sudden injuries or fractures, to long-term issues such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or repetitive stress. Diagnosing the exact cause can be tricky, but it is essential if you want to ensure you get the right wrist treatment to ensure you begin to heal as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of wrist pain
The symptoms you will feel associated with wrist pain, will depend on the exact cause of your pain but they can also be a help to your wrist consultant when they come to identifying what is causing your symptoms. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is often described as a tingling sensation (especially at night) whereas osteoarthritis pain is more often likened to toothache.
Common causes of wrist pain
The most common causes of wrist pain include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – which develops due to an increase in pressure on the media nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the palm side of your wrist
- Ganglion cysts – cysts which occur most often on the part of the wrist opposite your palm
- Kienbock’s disease – which involves the progressive collapse of one of the small bones within the wrist, and which usually occurs when the blood supply to the bone is compromised
- Osteoarthritis – a type of arthritis which occurs when the cartilage deteriorates over time. It is uncommon in the wrist, however, and usually only occurs in people who have previously injured their wrist
- Repetitive stress – repetitive wrist motion can inflame tissue around the joints or even cause fractures – especially if the movement is performed for hours on end without a break.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – when the body’s immune system attacks it’s own tissues.
- Sudden impact – usually occur when you fall forward onto your outstretched hand
No matter how careful you are, you may experience wrist pain in your lifetime, but your risk of experiencing it can be affected by:
- Certain diseases or conditions – such as diabetes, gout, obesity, and pregnancy which can all impact on your likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome
- Repetitive work – which involves your hands or wrists
- Sports participation – both sports that include repetitive stress or impact, such as bowling, gymnastics, football or tennis
Preventing wrist pain
It is not always possible to prevent wrist pain, but there are certain things you can do to lower the risk of you experiencing it:
- Build up your bone strength through the intake of adequate amounts of calcium is a great idea as this can help to prevent fractures
- Pay more attention to activities you do regularly, and make sure you study the ergonomics of them – such as using a gel wrist support if you type on a regular basis
- Prevent falls by removing home hazards, having plenty of light in your home, and always wearing sensible shoes. You could also install a grab bar if you are particularly worried about falling
- Use protective gear when partaking in sports
How is the cause of wrist pain diagnosed?
There are many ways causes of wrist pain can be diagnosed but most diagnosis will start with a physical examination where the wrist consultant may assess your grip strength, ask you to move your wrist in order to determine range of motion, and check your wrist for signs of swelling or deformity.
The consultant may then decide to do some imaging tests, such as x-rays to reveal signs of bone fractures, CT scans for more in-depth views of the bones in your wrist, an MRI scan for a really detailed view or an ultrasound to detect damage to tissues and ligaments.
If these tests are not conclusive then the next stage may be an arthroscopy, where a pencil-sized instrument is inserted into your wrist through a small incision in your skin. The consultant can then use this to look at images of your wrist on a large screen, which should more easily allow them to identify what the problem is.
Another test which is sometimes used is the EMG (electromyogram) which measures the tiny electrical charges which are produced by your muscles as a way of detecting whether you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome or not.
How is wrist pain treated?
There are many different types of wrist treatment available, depending on what is causing your pain and how severe it is. These include medication, therapy and surgery.
The best person to talk to about your wrist pain and how it should be treated is your wrist surgeon. You can enquire about an appointment with Mr David Murray online or call him on 01204 416 186.