How To Relieve Wrist Pain, The Most Common Wrist Pain Causes and Treatments: Have you ever wondered what’s causing your wrist pain? To help you finally feel better, here are some of the most common causes and treatments explained by experts.
Two experts (a doctor and an occupational therapist) explain what could be causing your wrist pain and how to get rid of it permanently. Preventing injuries and illnesses is key. If you’ve been WFH with a less-than-optimal setup, keep reading.
How To Relieve Wrist Pain, The Most Common Wrist Pain Causes and Treatments
5 Causes of Wrist Pain
A new watch, bracelet, or activity tracker may be the only time you consider your wrists. But if you have wrist pain, you know that sometimes it’s all you can think about. 6% of non-manual workers and 24% of manual workers have wrist pain. Wrist pain can make it impossible to text, type, bake, burpee, masturbate, massage, and so much more.
1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In the carpal tunnel (a narrow passageway or tunnel in the wrist), a nerve (the median nerve) gets compressed due to a thickening of tenosynovium fluid (a clear fluid that lines the wrist tendons). If that nerve is compressed, you can get pins-and-needles, numbness, and weakness in your hands and wrists.
“Carpal tunnel syndrome has almost nothing to do with what you do or your job,” says Dr. Badia. He says the tenosynovium fluid thickens due to metabolic or hormonal changes. “The average person with carpal tunnel syndrome is a middle-aged woman going through menopause,” he says.
Your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist may diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome based on your medical history or a physical exam that only tests the hand’s muscles. But sometimes your doctor will order an X-ray, nerve conductivity test, or electromyography (three non-painful tests!).
The fix: Carpal tunnel syndrome has few preventative treatments. Those who have it should first wear a splint at night to reduce wrist pain when bending.
Vitamin B can help mild cases. It is a physiologic diuretic, meaning it helps the body lose water weight. Vitamin B6 may help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, although research is ongoing. Some doctors recommend wrist pain exercises to help relieve the compressed nerve.
If the symptoms are severe, an endoscopic nerve release surgery can increase the carpal tunnel’s diameter by up to 40%. Increasing the carpal tunnel’s diameter allows more room for the nerve, reducing pain.
2. Wrist Tendonitis
Wrist tendonitis is another common cause of wrist pain. Among the six tendons that surround the wrist, tendinitis most commonly affects the carpal tunnel or the thumb tendon.
Tendonitis compresses the median nerve, like carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve is compressed in carpal tunnel syndrome by swollen fluid around it. Tendonitis causes compression of the nerve by swollen tendons.
DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis causes wrist pain on the thumb side.
Due to the hormonal changes that occur after pregnancy, DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis is colloquially known as Mommy’s Wrist. Just as your ankles swell or swell after pregnancy, so does the inflammation in your tendons.
The fix: “A single cortisol injection helps over 80% of the time,” Dr. Badia says. CBD ointment applied twice daily to the tendon can also help manage pain.
Chronic cases require a quick operation to open the tunnel and remove inflamed tissue to relieve tendon pressure. If none of the other treatments work or a tendon is damaged, surgery may be required.
3. Traumatic Wrist Injury
Wrist trauma, including fractures and breaks, can cause wrist pain. This injury is known as FOOSH, or fall on outstretched hand, according to Dr. Badia. This can happen if you fall and try to catch yourself with your hand.
Bruising or swelling around the wrist and thumb, and even wrist deformity are symptoms of breaks.
The fix: The treatment depends on the severity of the break and whether other joints or bones were affected. If the fracture did not cause bone displacement, a six-to-eight-week cast may be sufficient. Otherwise, surgery may be required.
Wrist osteoarthritis is rare compared to other joints. Dr. Badia says osteoarthritis affects the knee, hip, fingers, and thumb base more than the wrist. The deep, dull ache often fails to identify arthritis at the base of the thumb as wrist osteoarthritis.
Dr. Badia claims that women’s joints are more prone to laxity than men’s, and that oestrogen may play a role in this. Due to decreased oestrogen levels, women get arthritis at the base of their thumbs nearly three times more often than men.
A physical exam and discussion of past wrist aches, pains, and traumas are required to diagnose wrist osteoarthritis, he says. Your doctor may also order an X-ray to assess the severity of the joint damage or a blood test to rule out other forms of arthritis.
The fix: “You can’t reverse osteoarthritis,” says Joy Baganz, OT at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “We inject cortisol to nip inflammation in the bud,” she says. Doctors often prescribe wrist pain exercises to help patients gradually improve wrist range of motion after the inflammation has subsided. The Best CBD Cream For Arthritis Pain?
Dr. Badia advises booking an appointment with a hand specialist if you’re experiencing stiffness and soreness at the base of your thumb.
5. Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex
The TFCC is a load-bearing structure on the pinky side of the wrist. Over-rotating the wrist during an injury or normal wear and tear can injure the TFCC, according to Banganz. Banganz says that some people have naturally longer wrist bones, which can cause wear and injury.
The fix: “If you can’t turn the steering wheel without pain, you should see a hand specialist,” she says.
“For milder pain, immobilising the wrist with a wrist brace helps reduce inflammation.” After a few weeks, she says, working with a physical therapist on wrist strength and mobilisation exercises can help.
What To Do If You’re Having Pain in Your Wrist
If you’re experiencing pain in your hand, wrist, or arm after a fall, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. There will be numerous problems, including an inability to rotate your wrist adequately, says Dr. Badia if you don’t get the help you require and it heals incorrectly.
You can use ibuprofen to treat wrist pain that isn’t caused by a fall or traumatic injury, according to Baganz. She also advises using ice to reduce swelling and heat to reduce stiffness. See your doctor if the pain persists for more than three days. Hand and wrist specialists can perform the necessary tests and refer you to a doctor who can administer treatment or schedule surgery in the event that you need it.