What Causes Swelling In The Wrist?

Hand of a person who suffers from swelling in the wrist


The wrist is a part of the arm that consists of small joints that connect the hand to the rest of the body. It is important because it aids in the mobilization of the hand. Because it plays an important role in moving the arms and hands, when it becomes overused or injured, it may lead to inflammation or swelling.

The inflammation is commonly accompanied by pain. The wrist pain is sometimes linked to degenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, acute injury, infection, and inflammation. When pain is felt in the wrist area, it can surely affect the patient’s life, in school or work and it can affect daily activities like lifting, cooking, painting and even write.

Signs and symptoms

The pain and inflammation experienced in the wrist may be signs of an underlying medical condition or injury. The exact location and type of wrist pain can vary and can help detect what type of diseases is causing the inflammation.

Wrist inflammation may cause pain and a handful of other symptoms.

Stiffness – Wrist stiffness is felt when the patient has a bone disease like a bone overgrowth, osteoarthritis, and other conditions. This may lead to limited mobility and eventually, stiffness.

Gripping problems – When there is wrist pain and inflammation, they can affect the person’s ability to grasp or grip objects. This can become a problem at work and in school. Even the simple holding of a pen can be such as hassle and can be a cause for concern.

Redness – Aside from swelling, the wrist can turn red, too. This is a sign of inflammation and injury.

Numbness and tingling sensation – When there is wrist injury that has led to inflammation, the patient may also feel numbness or a tingling sensation, particularly on the fingers.

Clicking sound on the wrist – When the wrist is moved, a clicking sound can be heard. This means that the ball joints in the wrist are rubbing against each other, causing a sound and swelling.

Common causes of wrist pain and inflammation

There are many factors that can lead to wrist inflammation and pain. Overuse and acute injuries are some of the most common causes of swelling. The wrist contains several muscles, joints, bone, and tendons. These work together to help move the hand. If there are problems with these structures, pain and inflammation may happen, hindering the person to perform common activities using the hand.

Here are the common causes:

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a common condition seen in patients with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition. The progression of the disease can also affect the muscles, joints, and bones.


Osteoarthritis is common in older adults because the cartilages degenerate making the bones to rub each other. This causes severe pain and swelling in the wrist.

Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is caused by a bacteria that invade the soft tissues of the wrist.

Rheumatoid arthritis

The immune system recognizes the tissue on the body to be a foreign object and attacks it as a defense mechanism. The wrist is the most common target for rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms like clicking sound and dull pain can be noticed on the wrist upon movement.


Gout is a condition wherein uric acid builds up in between the bones and joints. This usually causes swelling of the various joints in the body, including wrist. Eating foods rich in uric acid can add to the pain and inflammation.


Cellulitis is the inflammation of the skin that is caused by a bacteria like the staphylococcus. The most common symptoms include pain, redness and swelling are the common symptoms of cellulitis.


A ganglion is a fluid-filled lump that has developed in the fingers especially in the joints. The lump then causes discomfort to the person when doing activities.

De Quervain’s disease

De Quervain’s disease is the inflammation of the thumb and the wrist that causes pain and swelling in the area. The patient will feel the pain when he turns his or wrist, and gripping can be hard to do.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve is responsible for the transfer of impulses to the brain for the hand to move. When the nerve is trapped in the carpal tunnel, there will be numbness and weakness in the hands and including the fingers. Pain and inflammation are also present and may cause impairment of the hands.

Fracture and sprains

People who have fractures (a break in the bone) and sprains require special management for pain.

Wrist injury

A wrist injury to can cause pain and swelling. These injuries include fractures or broken bones, tendonitis, sprains and strains. The common symptoms of these conditions include swelling, disfigured joints and bruising. This condition should be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the joints and surrounding structures.