Wrist Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Risks, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

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A woman who holding her hand because of a wrist pain

1Overview

The wrist is consist of small joints that connect the hand to the rest of the body and for mobilization of the hand, the wrist plays an important role and can sometimes be overused or injured.

The wrist pain is sometimes associated with degenerative diseases, infection, and inflammation. When pain is felt on the wrist, it can affect the person’s life and can hinder them to do their usual activities like writing, drawing or even just carrying a light bag.

For the experts to diagnose the cause of the wrist pain, they have to perform various tests to give proper treatment to the patient.

2Symptoms

The pain which the person may experience on the wrist may be one of the underlying cause of a specific disease or injury. The location and the type of pain can vary and can help determine what the type of disease is causing the pain is. Aside from pain, some people may experience bruising on the wrist, immobility and tingling sensation.
Others are as follows:

Difficulty in grasping objects

Can affect the person especially during at work or in school. A simple holding of a pen can be such a hassle that can be a cause of concern to the person.

Stiffness

Is felt when the person has a bone disease such as osteoarthritis, overgrowth of a bone in the joints or an injury that is not treated very well may cause limited mobility or eventually stiffness of the joints.

Numbness and tingling sensation

On the wrist may be a result of a nerve that is being impeded or damaged due to injury or a disease. Sometimes the numbing sensation can be worst during at night.

Swelling and redness

Can be seen on the wrist of it suffered from an injury or inflammation is taking place on the wrist.

Clicking sound on the wrist

Upon movement can be heard when the ball joints rub against each other causing the sound and that pain can accompany it.

3Causes

Many factors cause pain on the wrist like injuries, diseases or even overworked muscles and tendons on the wrist can be the cause. The wrist has several joints, muscles, bones, and tendons that help in the movement of the hand. If there are any problems involving the different parts of the wrist, it will affect the movement and can cause some dilemma to the person.

Diseases involving the bones like:

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.

Psoriatic arthritis

It can be seen in patients with psoriasis. The progression of psoriasis can also affect the muscles, joints, and bones.

Osteoarthritis

This is common in elderly patients, as the cartilages degenerate the bones tend to rub each other and that can cause extreme pain on the wrist. Sometimes a previous wrist injury can be a factor of having osteoarthritis.

Septic arthritis

The cause of arthritis is a bacteria that stay and invades the soft tissues of the wrist.

Gout

An accumulation of a substance in between the bones and joints which is the uric acid. Eating foods rich in uric acid can add to the pain felt on the wrist.

Ganglion

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.

Cellulitis

It is an inflammation of the skin that is caused by a bacteria like the staphylococcus.
Pain, redness, and swelling are the common symptoms of cellulitis.

De Quervain’s disease

It is an inflammation of the thumb and the wrist that causes pain when the person turns his or wrist and even grasping is difficult to do.

Fracture and sprains

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

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve is responsible for the transmission of impulses to the brain for the hand to move. When the nerve is impeded there will be numbness and weakness in the hands and including the fingers. Pain is also present and may cause impairment of the hands.

4Risk Factors

It can be felt by all, men or women, young and old. Risk factors of having a wrist pain may vary from the underlying cause and can be aggravated by these:

Repetition of work

The overuse of the hands and wrist without proper care to the joints can be a risk to develop wrist pain

Diseases

Diseases of the bones like arthritis, gout, and including infection can add to the risk for acquiring the wrist injury and that can also cause pain.

Sports and work-related

The people who love sports and works on a repetitive schedule and workouts can damage the joints including the wrists.

Elderly patients

The degenerative disease can be a risk of having the pain in the joints of the body.

5Complications

Having a wrist pain can be uncomfortable to person and can hinder their activities and if this is left untreated certain complications can be seen on the wrists like:

  • Severe pain on the wrists especially when at rest.
  • Numbness in the hands, the nerves on the hands might be damaged and can have irreversible damage on the hands.
  • Hand motion like grasping or typing is not possible for the person who is suffering from wrist pain.

6Diagnosis

For the general physician to treat the problem on the wrist, he should order several test and assessments to confirm the cause and the appropriate treatment for the patient.

During the assessment, the doctor will ask about the characteristics of the pain on the wrist and when it is felt. Some of the diagnostic tests can also give an appropriate and exact result in detecting the cause of pain.

Arthroscopy

It is a surgical procedure that involves making a small cut on the wrist, a small probe is inserted into the cut to see the structures and joints of the wrist. It provides accurate visualization and picture of the wrist.

X-rays

This is the most common procedure to detect a fracture, sprain or structural damage on the bones in the wrist.

Bone scans

A radioactive fluid is introduced into the body, it sticks to the bone when there are any deviances in the structures like bone growth.

Nerve test

If the person is suspected to have a carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor may order a procedure that is the electromyogram. This test requires electrodes to be attached to the muscles to measure the levels of the electrical activity during at rest.

Joint fluid test

The clear fluid found inside the joints are tested if there is any suspension of gout.
Crystals may be seen in patients who have gouts and sometimes even infections.

7Treatment

Medications are one of the treatments given by the doctor once they have a clear picture of the disease causing the pain on the wrist.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

The mechanism of action of these drugs is to block the pain receptors to prevent the start of the inflammation process.

Home treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of the wrist pain like:

  • Limit the movement of the wrists by using a splint. The immobilization of the wrist can minimize the pain when moving the hand.
  • To minimize and reduce the inflammation and swelling on the wrist, the cold and warm compress can be used together with other methods of treatment to have better results.
  • Avoid eating foods rich in uric acids like organ meats, sardines, beef, and pork.
  • Have a proper exercise and appropriate stretches involving the wrist to minimize the pain, discomfort and to reduce the pressure on the wrist. A physical therapist can help you during the exercise to minimize or avoid injury to the wrist.
  • Surgery can help restore bone fractures and tears in the muscles and tendons.

8Prevention

To prevent wrist pain the person should have a proper exercise on the wrist and also make sure to have an appropriate rest to lessen the workload on the wrist. Others preventive measures can also be done by following these tips.

  • Precautionary measures to avoid accidents. Remove things of furniture that is blocking the way, use shoes that are not slippery to avoid falls and use side rails to elder clients to prevent unforeseen accidents.
  • When working in an environment that uses computers, make sure to have a keyboard that is wrist friendly and practice the wrist exercises to prevent pain on the wrist.
  • Proper body alignment can also help prevent injuries on the body
  • Athletes can use support for the wrists like wrist guards and also protective gear for the body.
  • Drink milk and eat foods rich in calcium like yogurt, broccoli, and cheese to prevent the onset of the degenerative bone diseases.