What to do if my wrist hurts?


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Discomfort in the wrist is a common complaint in people of all ages. It occurs not only because of diseases of the joint but the wrist can also hurt in people who work or sit on the computer for long hours.

Possible causes of wrist pain

Wrist injuries in most cases cannot be prevented. For instance, during winter, you can slip on your hand, athletes can get dislocations and wrist fractures during training and in everyday life you can hurt your hand even when you are at home. The main types of injuries that cause pain are:

  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Stretching

The sprains often come with dislocations that happens when the injured ligaments cannot hold the joint normally.

A healthy wrist hurts from muscle spasms if the arm is constantly strained in an uncomfortable position. For example, if the person holds a letter on and computer mouse all day long. If the problem is ignored, ”tunnel syndrome” which is pinching of the median nerve may develop. This is a ore serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

The other cause of wrist pain is joint, tendon, cartilage and bone disease. They can be different in nature, affect all joints and cartilages of the body or they can only be observed in one or two places of the body. The most common ones being:

  • Tendonitis which is an inflammation of the tendons
  • Synovitis which is an inflammation of the synovial membrane
  • Osteoarthritis which is cartilage thinning
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which is inflammation of connective tissue
  • Neoplasms
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The disease also comes with various other symptoms like body pain, weakness , fever, numbness and loss of sensitivity. Therefore, they cannot be easily confused with injuries or muscle fatigue.

How to distinguish the cause of pain by symptoms

Pain in the wrist can be sharp or axing as you move or it can be felt constantly. thee nature of pain, presence of redness, fever and general well-being are good indications to the cause of the disease. The final diagnosis will be done by a doctor but after that you will be directed o who to consult next; either a neurologist, surgeon or traumatologist.

  • Limited wrist mobility, nagging pain and swelling are the right signs of stretching. If you feel severe pain when you are driving, it is a more serious injury, probably dislocation or a fracture.
  • Light pain and fatigue in the hand is a sign of overexertion of the wrist.
  • If you feel severe pain when moving the brush, the base of the palm can feel tingling, and the fingers are numb and can not hold weight – most likely, you have tunnel syndrome.
  • If the joint pain is accompanied by clicks and crunch when moving and the local temperature increase, there is a high probability of tendinitis.
  • In case of osteoarthritis, a deformity of the joint will be noticeable at the site of the damage.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis can be a cause of pain, deformity of the wrist joint, reduced mobility and swollen hands.
  • Aside form pain in the wrist there may also be increased body temperature, weakness, headache and an inflamed tendon due to synovitis.
  • For tumours, there will be decreased mobility, severe pain and the tumours will be clearly visible during an examination.
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Diagnosis of wrist diseases

The doctor will check for other symptoms except muscle spasms. Depending on the symptoms and indications, you may be prescribed for different examinations such as:

  • X-ray of the wrist in injury
  • Ultrasound, MRI or CT scan for joint diseases
  • General and biochemical blood test to determine the presence of inflammation and infection
  • Analysis of synovial fluid in arthritis, osteoarthritis and tendinitis.

Thanks to these examinations it will be possible to accurately determine the cause of the pain, the level of damage to the bones and soft tissues and the presence of infection or necrosis. If during the first examination the doctor will not be able to determine the cause of pain, you will need to undergo X-rays and blood tests. The first results will indicate whether there is need to continue with the tests or to start treatment.

What can help when your wrist hurts

Always ensure that you do not move the sore limb. Applying a cold compress can help relive the symptoms. If you experience severe pain, you can take an analgesics as prescribed by the doctor.

If injury needs to be fixed using a wrist bandage or plaster, ensure that you take enough rest. If your wrist is painful due to an old injury, the traumatologist will prescribe the right treatment.

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In other cases, the doctor will prescribe medication that will focus on the disease. They can be chondroprotectors, anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that relive swelling. You should not self-medicate if you do not know the real cause of the condition as this may exacerbate the problem.

If the discomfort in caused by muscle fatigue and uncomfortable posture then simply massage your hands and take a break from work. The pain should be relived after 5 or 10 minutes.


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Cornelius A.

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