Wrist pain is a common problem that can pop up out of nowhere. The wrist is a complex joint that is responsible for hand movement. It consists of eight small bones called carpals. Though there are many ligaments supporting this structure, any injury to the wrist can cause serious damage to the tendons.
There are many common wrist injuries that impact our everyday lives. These wrist injuries are often caused by poor biomechanics. If you spend every day on your computer or even just lift weights, you will likely experience at least one of these over time if you have not already.
If you have problems with your wrists, you're not alone. Here are a few typical injuries among most folks and tips on how they got them. I'm hoping this blog post will help you learn more about common wrist problems, help prevent any injury, and provide some information so you can seek proper medical care at a Manhattan pain management center if needed.
1. Fracture or break
A fracture is a break in a bone that may occur when you fall on an outstretched hand or hit your hand against an object. A broken wrist may also occur if you fall onto your outstretched hand with your arm bent backward.
Fractures are common among athletes who play contact sports such as football and hockey because they often fall onto hard surfaces with their arms outstretched or bent back behind them when they are tackled by an opponent. A fracture can cause significant pain and swell at the site of injury. You may also have trouble moving your thumb and fingers freely due to swelling around those joints.
If you suspect a fracture, see a medical professional to get an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment options. A pain doctor will thoroughly examine your hand and wrist to determine whether there's been any damage to the cartilage between bones that make up your joint surfaces.
A sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in your wrist. The ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones in your body. Sprains can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how much damage there is to the ligament fibers.
Sprains are often caused by falls and sports injuries, such as overstretching your arm and landing on it outstretched. Sometimes sprains are caused by having weight on an outstretched hand for too long, like leaning against a countertop for hours at a time.
3. Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common wrist injury that causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist.
The carpal tunnel is formed by eight bones in your wrist, with the transverse carpal ligament acting as a roof over the tunnel. The median nerve runs through this tunnel along with tendons that extend from your flexor tendons to your fingers. As you move your fingers and hands, these tendons make small movements that can compress and irritate the median nerve.
Your hands use many muscles and tendons to flex, extend, rotate and grasp objects. These movements cause pressure on the median nerve inside your wrist, which can lead to CTS if it's not treated promptly. The most common cause of CTS is overuse or repetitive strain injuries from work or other activities that require prolonged hand or wrist movement, such as typing on a keyboard or playing piano or guitar. The good news is that many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with non-surgical interventions.
A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between the bones, tendons, and muscles of the body. They help to decrease the risk of injury by absorbing shock during movement.
Bursitis is an inflammation of one or more bursae that results in pain and stiffness in the affected area. Bursitis develops when the bursa becomes inflamed and irritated. This irritation can be caused by repeated rubbing or friction against bone or tissue, such as when you overuse your hands. It can affect any joint in the body and is often caused by trauma or injury.
5. Wrist arthritis
Wrist arthritis is the most common of all wrist injuries, affecting an estimated 43 percent of Americans over 65 years old. It's caused by degeneration of the cartilage in your joints, which leads to pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving your wrist.
Wrist arthritis also may be caused by chronic overuse or repetitive motion injuries. These types of injuries occur when you use your hand for too long without rest or protection from injury.
The best way to prevent wrist arthritis is to exercise regularly, manage your weight and avoid repetitive stress on your wrists, such as typing or playing golf. When you experience pain or stiffness in your wrists, consult a pain specialist who can recommend correct exercises and appropriate treatments.
6. Ganglion cysts
Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form around a joint or tendon. These are firm bumps that form under the skin. They can occur anywhere on the hand or wrist but most often appear on the back near where a tendon attaches to the bone.
They are not painful but may be sensitive when pressed upon because they contain fluid and sometimes a bit of tissue from degenerated joint tissue. They generally don't require treatment unless they become infected or interfere with the functional use of your hand.
Tendinitis occurs when there is inflammation of a tendon (the tissue that connects muscle to bone). This may be caused by an overuse injury or repetitive motion. Symptoms usually cause pain and swelling near where the tendon attaches to bone and can make moving difficult. Treatment may include physical therapy to improve strength in your affected arm muscles.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a common type of tendinitis that affects the outer side of the elbow, where the muscle that bends the wrist attaches to the bone. Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis) is another type of tendinitis that affects the inner side of the elbow where the muscle that straightens out your fingers attaches to the bone.
A dislocation happens when a bone slips out of its normal position within its joint capsule (the covering surrounding a joint). The most common type of dislocation involves an injury to one of the small joints that connect bones in your fingers or thumbs (wrist dislocations).
Wrist pain management
Wrist injuries are common among athletes and even office workers who experience repetitive stress from typing and mouse use. If you're experiencing wrist pain, it's easy to assume that the solution is simply to rest and ice the injury. However, in some cases, wrist pain can be the result of a fracture or other serious injury.
If you think you have a wrist injury, see our Manhattan pain management specialist immediately. While many of these injuries aren't severe, treatment and prevention can help reduce the effects of heavier cases over time. Understanding your risks for common wrist injuries can help you identify signs of injury so you can reduce your risk for more serious issues in the future. And if one does occur, be sure to speak to a trained professional.