Wrist pain is any discomfort that occurs inone or both wrists.
The wrist is composed of muscles, small bones, tendons, cartilages, and blood vessels. This part of the body is very prone to injury. This is because people use the wrist in almost all of their daily activities. Wrist pain is usually caused by injury or inflammation. However, pain may also occur because of an infection or other disorders on the wrist.
Arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout (See: Gout Symptoms), and osteoarthritis commonly cause inflammation in the wrist leading to pain. An activity that requires repetitive use of the wrist, and sports can lead to injuries in the wrist such as: strains, sprains, and fractures causing pain. Another factor that may cause pain in the wrist area is nerve problems such as pinched nerves.
Treatment of wrist pain varies depending on the underlying cause of the pain. In mild cases, the pain may just go away after some time. Over-the-counter medications and alternate cold and hot compresses may relieve mild pain. In severe cases, the patient may need to undergo physical therapy or should consult the doctor for a strong pain medication. Surgery may be required for some cases. It is important to consult a physician for proper diagnosis of the cause of pain as well as treatment.
Causes of Wrist Pain
Wrist pain is caused by different diseases or disorders. The most common of which is bone fracture. Bone fractures are common in children as well as the elderly. Breaking a bone yields severe and stabbing pain. This is because of the nerve-dense bone being torn apart. The bone’s surrounding tissues such as: skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are also being damaged. The most common sites of fracture are the distal ends of the ulna, lunate, hamate, scaphoid, and the radius bones. Wrist fractures occur because of trauma that may be caused by vehicular accidents, falls, contact sports, and many more.
The wrist three main nerves are the radial nerve, ulnar nerve, and median nerve. Nerve damage is also a common cause of wrist pain. Damage in the nerves can be a result of stretching and tearing caused by fractures, but the nerve damage in the wrist is because of impingement. Impingement and compression of the median nerve occur because of excessive inflammation and scar tissue formation brought about by Carpal tunnel syndrome. Severe pain, wrist numbness, and muscle weakness are symptoms of median nerve compression. On the other hand, Wartenberg syndrome also causes compression but this time, on the radial nerve. This causes pain in the outer wrist that may radiate to the thumb. These syndromes are usually results from repetitive motions such as: writing, typing, and playing the piano.
Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause wrist pain. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints of the body, including the wrist. The cause of this condition is yet unknown. This can cause severe pain in one or both wrists as well as bone deformities.
Treatment of Wrist Pain
Wrist pain is treated depending on the underlying cause of the pain, the current health status of the patient, and severity of injury. Mild wrist injuries are usually treated by rest and cold compresses. A splint is used for immobilizing the wrist to prevent further injury and allow healing. Pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may aid in reducing pain. For pain caused by inflammation, medications like corticosteroids are used.
In some cases, a physical therapist may be needed. This is to provide the patient safe exercises to strengthening the wrist. For broken bones, a cast is required to align and hold the pieces together as well as for proper healing.
In severe cases, the physician may require the patient to undergo surgery. Cases like severe fractures needs to undergo surgery. Surgeons will insert a metal hardware in the bone to hold the bone fragments together. Carpal tunnel syndrome patients may be required to undergo surgery to get rid of the pressure on the nerves. Surgery may also be needed to repair ruptured ligaments and tendons.
Prevention of Wrist Pain
Wrist pain caused by certain conditions or diseases can be prevented. People who spend a lot of time on the computer have a high risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Measures to prevent this disorder include adjusting the keyboard of the computer to prevent the wrist from bending upward while typing. Frequent breaks are also important to allow the wrist to rest. Gout may be prevented by limiting the intake of foods high in purine such as: anchovies, liver, and sardines.
Preventing wrist pain caused by injuries due to unexpected events is quite impossible. However, certain measures can be done to help prevent or lessen the severity of the injury. Keeping the bones strong is very important. This can be achieved through an adequate intake of calcium as well as vitamin D for calcium absorption. In the performance of strenuous activities, it is essential to use protective gears such as wrist guards to prevent injury.