What’s causing your wrist pain?

Struggling with wrist pain? Whether you’re a keen tennis player or golfer, spend hours behind your computer or often knit jerseys for your children; any of these could be causing your problem.

Your wrist is a complex joint, made up of eight small carpal bones and two long forearm bones.

Let’s have a look at what could be causing your wrist pain:

a) Injuries and overuse:

  • sprains and strains, especially from tennis, golf, bowling, gymnastics
  • fractures, especially from falling on an outstretched hand
  • repetitive stress: from repetitive movements for hours on end e.g. knitting, haircutting
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which causes pain at the base of the thumb due to repetitive movement
  • tendonitis

b) Arthritic conditions:

  • rheumatoid arthritis: an auto-immune condition affecting a variety of joints, especially the wrists and fingers. It usually affects both sides.
  • osteo-arthritis: a wear-and-tear mechanical arthritis
  • gout: due to a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joint
  • pseudo-gout: due to a build-up of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in the joint
  • infectious arthritis: a red, warm painful joint associated with fever and feeling unwell
  • psoriatic arthritis: arthritis associated with nail and skin changes

c) Other conditions:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome: often causes wrist pain at night, as well as numbness and tingling of the hand due to pressure on the median nerve – common in pregnant, obese, diabetic, rheumatoid arthritis and underactive thyroid patients.
  • ganglion cysts: these soft tissue cysts are often found on the top of the wrist/hand
  • Kienbock’s disease: due to the collapse of one of the small wrist bones, where the blood supply is affected, usually in young adults
Read  "Ouch! My toe!" What you need to know about Gout

When is it time to see your doctor?

If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, it’s time to give your doctor a call:

  • inability to move your wrist, hand or fingers
  • bruising or swelling of your wrist, hand or fingers
  • fever
  • redness, warmth
  • stiffness
  • loss of muscle mass
  • numbness, tingling or weakness
  • if over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are not helping
  • a rash

What treatment options might exist for your wrist pain?

After your doctor has examined your wrist, specific treatment will depend on the underlying cause.

  • recent injuries such as strains and sprains can be treated with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • anti-inflammatories (paracetamol, ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • wrist splints can be worn at night, and during the day, if practical
  • physiotherapy, including flexibility and strengthening exercises
  • adjustment of work environs (ergonomics): adjust your mouse pad and keyboard to prevent your wrist from tilting upward whilst typing
  • surgery – carpal tunnel release
  • tendon and/or ligament repair
  • surgical correction of fractures
  • medical treatment of specific arthritic conditions: usually by a Rheumatologist and will depend on the type of arthritis present

So, as you can see, there are many possible causes for writs-pain. Talk to one of our doctors if you’d like them to help you get to the bottom of it.