What Is Wrist Pain?
Wrist pain is pain located in the wrist. It is often caused by carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Other causes include arthritis, injury, and gout.
What Are the Causes of Wrist Pain?
CTS is a common condition in which swelling in the wrist tightens around the median nerve. Swelling may occur if you:
perform repetitive tasks with your hands such as typing, drawing, writing, or sewing
are overweight, pregnant, or menopausal
have a disorder such as diabetes, arthritis, or an underactive thyroid
An injury to your wrist will cause pain. Wrist injuries include sprains, broken bones, and tendinitis. Swelling, bruising, and disfigured joints may signify a wrist injury.
Gout, a condition in which the body over-produces or under excretes uric acid, can cause wrist pain. When circulating uric acid level are abnormally high, the uric acid crystals can deposit in the joints. Gout frequently occurs in the knees, ankles, and wrists. Pseudogout is a similar condition where calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) deposits appear in the joints. Joints are often red and swollen.
Causes of gout include:
drinking too much alcohol
Conditions such as high blood pressure, pregnancy, diabetes, and obesity can trigger gout.
Arthritis is a condition in which the joints are inflamed. The condition can cause swelling and stiffness. There are many types of arthritis. Common types include:
rheumatoid arthritisâan autoimmune disease common among women, usually affecting both wrists
osteoarthritisâ a disease of joint âwear and tearâ common among the elderly
psoriatic arthritisâa condition that includes a skin disorder
Arthritis can occur from many causes. These include aging, normal wear and tear, and overworking the hands.
What Are the Symptoms of Wrist Pain?
Symptoms of CTS include:
trouble making a fist or gripping objects
a sensation that the hands have fallen asleep
pain, numbness, and/or tingling that may get worse at night
Symptoms of gout include:
sudden, sharp pain
swelling or redness
warmth in a joint
Symptoms of gout may go away and return months or years later.
Arthritis has many similar symptoms to CTS, including difficulty gripping items, swelling, and pain. Seek immediate medical attention if your wrist is warm and red and if you have a fever over 100 degrees F. These factors may signify infectious arthritis, a serious illness.
How Is Wrist Pain Diagnosed?
Your doctor will give you a physical examination to diagnose wrist pain. He or she may diagnose wrist pain by:
bending your wrist forward for 60 seconds to see if numbness or tingling occurs
tapping the area over the median wrist to see if pain occurs
testing your grip
asking you about your medical history
ordering tests such as an electromyography or nerve conduction velocity
taking X-rays of your wrist
Your doctor may check for gout by:
ordering an X-ray of your joints
ordering a screening test of your urine and blood
examining a sample of fluid taken from your joints to check for crystals or calcium
What Are the Treatments for Wrist Pain?
Treatment options for CTS may include:
wearing a wrist brace or splint to reduce swelling and ease wrist pain
applying hot or cold compresses
taking oral or injected anti-inflammatory drugs
surgery, in severe cares
If you have undergone a wrist injury, you can help healing by:
resting your wrist and keeping it elevated
placing an ice pack on the affected area to lower swelling and numb pain
taking a mild pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
wearing a wrist splint
Get immediate medical attention if you cannot move your wrist or if any part of your hand looks deformed. You may have broken a bone.
If you have arthritis, consider visiting a physical therapist. A physical therapist can show you some strengthening and stretching exercises for your wrist.
If you have gout, your doctor may recommend:
taking an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen
drinking lots of liquid to reduce the concentration of uric acid
cutting back on fat and alcohol intake
How Can I Prevent Wrist Pain?
You can help prevent wrist pain by:
using an ergonomic keyboard to keep your wrists from bending upwards
resting your hands often while typing or doing similar activities
working with an occupational therapist to stretch and strengthen your wrists
To help prevent future gout attacks, consider:
drinking more water and less alcohol
eating less liver, anchovies, and other smoked or pickled fish
eating moderate amounts of protein
taking medication, as prescribed by your doctor