How To Treat Wrist Pain
The first step is to stop doing any exercise that irritates the wrist. “You’ve got to cut off the inflammation and any further damage from occurring,” says Mostoff.
To help your wrists heal, Mostoff recommends applying ice to the area daily and gently massaging the muscles in the forearm to reduce tension. You might also consider wearing wrist splints to take pressure off the joints, he adds.
While the pain persists, avoid doing any stretches that put the wrist in a bent position . But once the inflammation has calmed down, stretching the forearms is another way to help release tension: “Bend the wrist up while keeping the arm and elbow straight and hold for 30 to 60 seconds,” Mostoff says. “Reverse the motion and bend the wrist down and hold for another 30 to 60 seconds.” To deepen the stretch, use the opposite hand to pull gently on your fingers.
Once you’re ready to get back to your strength training routine, you can protect your wrists by wrapping them with athletic tape or wearing a wrist strap. Also, make sure you always maintain a neutral wrist position. “For example, if you’re doing bicep curls, make sure your wrist is completely straight as you curl the weight towards your body,” Mostoff says. “If you’re doing push-ups, use parallel bars or do the push-up on your knuckles so your wrists are straight while you perform the exercise,” he adds.
How Is Wrist Pain Treated
Treatments for wrist pain vary depending on the cause. Depending on the severity, you may need a protective splint or cast for a fracture. If the fracture is unstable, you may require surgery. Wearing an extended support such as a cast, brace or splint can ease the pain brought on by a sprain, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. Surgical intervention provides internal support.
For chronic, severe pain, your healthcare provider may recommend:
- Oral and/or injected medications to relieve symptoms.
- Carpal tunnel surgery to release pressure on the median nerve.
- Surgical release of compressed tendons.
- Surgery to ease bone-on-bone contact from arthritis. This can include motion-preserving procedures such as potential wrist fusion, bone removal or total or partial wrist replacement.
- Removal of the inflamed tissue . Your surgeon may use an open or arthroscopic technique.
How Can I Prevent Wrist Tendinitis
Tips for preventing wrist tendon pain include:
- Dont overwork the tendons in your wrist or hand.
- Stretch your wrists before physical activity.
- Take frequent breaks if you do a lot of typing or other activities that strain your wrists.
- Use a protective wrist splint or brace if recommended by your healthcare provider.
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Grade 3 Wrist Sprains
Grade 3 sprains are the most severe and are usually the result of some significant trauma, such as a very hard fall onto the outstretched wrist, or a severe industrial or athletic injury, or really anything that puts the wrist in peril. These Grade 3 sprains need constant monitoring, and are the most likely to require medical intervention. If you suffer one such sprain, and the icing does not seem to have any effect after a day or so, you will need to see a doctor to have diagnostic tests run to determine the extent of the injury.
Whats The Prognosis For People With Wrist Tendinitis
Most people respond very well to treatment and dont have long-term wrist damage or pain. After your wrist heals, physical therapy or occupational therapy can help you improve strength and mobility in your wrist. Therapists can also show you how to continue doing the activities you enjoy with less strain on your wrists.
After you have a tendon injury, youre more likely to injure the tendon again. Be especially careful to protect your wrists when playing sports or performing repetitive movements. Most importantly, dont push through pain. Pain is your bodys way of speaking to you, and you should listen to it.
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What Is A Sprain
A sprain is a ligament injury where one or more ligaments are either stretched or torn. A ligament is a strong band of tissue bridging two bones together.
Most of the time, sprains happen in the ankle. However, sprains can also occur in the wrist if you fall on your hand.
Wrist sprains are common, especially in work and athletic environments. According to experts, 20 individual ligaments in the wrist connect the eight carpal bones. They also connect the forearm and the hand.
You may experience pain and swelling in the first one to two days after a sprain. Pain from a sprained wrist can be mild to severe, depending on the damage. It has three grades or levels:
- Grade 1 sprains are when you stretch a ligament but dont tear it.
- Grade 2 sprains are when your ligament is partially torn. This injury can negatively affect functionality.
- Grade 3 sprains are when your ligaments are completely torn.
When Should I Call The Doctor
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
- Inability to move your hand, wrist or fingers.
- Pain that lasts after two weeks of at-home treatments.
- Painful tingling up or down your arm.
- Unusual redness or swelling in your forearm, wrist, hand or fingers.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Many people experience wrist pain at some point. Outside of a sprain or fracture, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and arthritis are major causes of wrist pain. Your healthcare provider can help pinpoint whats causing your wrist pain and recommend appropriate treatments. Often, nonsurgical therapies like wearing a splint, modifying activities and doing hand exercises can ease symptoms. If wrist pain interferes with your ability to work, sleep or do daily activities, you might benefit from surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/03/2017.
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When To Go To The Er Or Urgent Care
Seek medical care at the emergency room or an urgent care center if:
- you think you have a broken bone in your wrist or hand or there is a visible deformity
- you have an open wound that needs immediate treatment
- you are in severe pain or
- the area is warm, red, or tender, or you have a fever of over 100° F/ 37.8° C .
Delaying treatment could cause permanent damage to and around your wrist or hand.
Acute Wrist Sprains & Treatment
When any of these ligaments are injured, which is referred to as an Acute Sprain, the first and most important step is to see about treating that injury as soon as possible.The first step will be to apply ice, or something cold, to the injury immediately, to counteract the swelling and reduce inflammation, which can make treatment more difficult. Ideally, a medical ice bandage is the best to use in these situations, but a bag of ice cubes, or even the iconic bag of frozen peas can work in a pinch.
If you can, find something to wrap around the wrist so that the cold object is held firmly onto it, rather than having to use your free hand to hold it on. It is important to keep the cold bandage pressed firmly against the wrist, but not so tight as to cause pain or cut off the circulation to the hand. If this happens, you will notice darkening and discoloration in the hand and will need to adjust the tightness of the dressing.
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Grade 3 Sprained Wrist
This is the most serious type of wrist sprain. The ligaments have completely torn. In some cases, the ligament might separate from the bone.
If you have a grade 3 wrist sprain, you may need surgery.
Like a wrist sprain, a wrist break is often caused by a fall. Its also called a wrist fracture. The injury involves the bone. It happens when one or several bones in your wrist crack or break.
Common symptoms of a broken wrist include:
- severe pain, especially when moving your hand
A doctor can diagnose a wrist sprain by using different tests. This lets them rule out other injuries, like a wrist break or strain.
Possible tests include:
- Physical examination. At your initial appointment, a doctor will look for swelling, tenderness, and bruising. Theyll assess your mobility.
- MRI or CT scan.MRI and CT scans create images of your ligaments and tendons. A doctor can use them to check the severity of your injury.
- X-ray. A doctor may order an X-ray to confirm your wrist is not broken.
The best treatment plan depends on the severity of your sprain. Most wrist sprains can be treated without surgery.
Don’t Ignore Wrist Pain
Baganz says it’s common for people to ignore their wrist pain. “Athletes, in particular, are prone to having a no pain no gain mentality,” she says.
Unfortunately, ignoring pain doesn’t mean it’s not there. “If you’re experiencing wrist pain, stop and do something that doesn’t cause pain to your wrists,” she says. Otherwise, you may worsen your condition. Her recommendation: If the pain is severe, or lasts longer than three or four days, seek the care of a physical or occupational therapist.
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Ways To Reduce Hand And Wrist Pain
In addition to life being better when youre not in pain, its important to take steps to prevent that potential occurrence too. Luckily, there are numerous actions you can take to prevent your hand and wrist pain from worsening.
Pausing to stretch your hands and wrists can help bring back flexibility and can improve the blood flow that may be impacted by a lack of arm movement.
If you notice that stretching your hands and wrists reduces your pain, you may opt to stretch briefly every hour or two. In the same way as its a good idea to get up and stand every hour to break up your sitting, its a good idea to keep your hands and wrists flexible as you use them throughout the day.
Stretching your wrists is an easy way to reduce the pain in them caused by typing. Some examples of wrist stretches you can try are below:
- Raise and lower your hands in a stop position with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Make and hold a fist.
- Rotate your hand up and down while making a fist.
Hand and Finger Stretching
Stretching our hands and fingers isnt something we tend to think a lot about unless were doing a sport that involves gripping, but it can be very helpful in reducing the pain from typing and texting all day.
Here are some ways to stretch your hands and fingers:
What To Do If You’re Experiencing Wrist Pain
If you fell on your hand, wrist, or arm and are experiencing pain, go to the doctor ASAP. “If you don’t seek the help you need, and it heals wrong you’re going to have a host of problems, including not being able to adequately rotate your wrist,” says Dr. Badia.
If you’re experiencing wrist pain that’s not due to a fall or traumatic injury, Baganz says you can treat it with ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. She also recommends ice for swelling and heat for stiffness. If the pain lasts longer than three days, that’s when it’s time to see your doctor. A doctor can run the appropriate tests and refer you to a hand or wrist specialist who can administer treatment or schedule surgery if needed, she says.
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Hands And Knees: Wrist Stretch
You can do the same stretch on your hands and knees. Line up your knees underneath your hips, then place your palms on the ground underneath your shoulders. Turn the right hand to the right so that the fingers are reaching towards your knees and the wrist crease is reaching towards the front of the mat. Lean back to feel a stretch in the back of the wrist, and hold for a few breaths. Then switch to the left wrist.
When To See A Doctor For A Wrist Or Hand Injury
You might not think about how important your wrists and hands are to daily lifeuntil they are hurt or injured. Suddenly, activities like typing on your keyboard, lifting objects, or playing sports become a challenge.
If you have been taking care of your wrist or hand injury at home and the symptoms are still present after seven to 10 days, it may be time to see an orthopedic doctor. Consider making an appointment if:
- your wrist or hand pain remains the same or gets worse, even with rest,
- your wrist or hand hurts when you arent using them,
- the pain returns when you resume activities such as typing or lifting a bag of groceries, or
- the affected area shows signs of a possible infection, including warmth, redness, or tenderness. Another sign of possible infection is a fever of over 100° F/ 37.8° C.
Our orthopedic doctors specialize in caring for injuries and painful conditions of the wrist and hand. We see patients at University Orthopaedic Center, as well as other U of U Health outpatient locations. We work alongside physiatrists, family medicine physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers to provide the best care available.
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How To Relieve Wrist Pain
This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 98,919 times.
Wrist pain is a common complaint for many people, although it has quite a few different causes. It’s often caused by ligament sprains from minor trauma, although other reasons include repetitive stress, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, gout and bone fractures.XTrustworthy SourceMedlinePlusCollection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of MedicineGo to source Because wrist pain has so many factors, accurate diagnosing is important for determining the most effective treatment. Regardless, caring for wrist pain at home is similar no matter the cause.
Modify Exercises As Needed
Speaking of everyday athletes, Baganz says to avoid exercises that load weight on your wrists if you’re experiencing pain.
For example, if doing push-ups with flat hands hurts she suggests doing them from your fists, which allows your wrists to maintain a more neutral position. FYI: Same goes for burpees and planks. Don’t be afraid to ask a certified trainer or your physical therapist for ways to modify exercises if you have wrist pain.
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Be Proactive Not Reactive
How many million Americans work at a computer or laptop all day? There are more than we can count, and all of them can be afflicted with wrist pain. Whether it comes from arthritis, poor posture, or simply the constant repetition of pounding the keyboard, wrist pain is a common complaint. It can affect your productivity and if left untreated, may create more serious issues.
In order to prevent certain conditions like the numbness and tingling of carpal tunnel syndrome or De Quervains tendonitis, be aware that the nerves, muscles, and tendons in our neck are connected to our shoulder, then run down our arm to our wrist and fingers. If theres an problem in our neck muscles or nerves, its possible to feel the pain in our wrist.
What To Expect When You See An Orthopedic Doctor
During your appointment, your orthopedic doctor will:
- examine your wrist or hand for tenderness, swelling, or deformity
- check your Hrange of motion and strength in your wrist or hand and
- get an X-ray during your visit.
After completing the evaluation, your orthopedic doctor will talk to you about a treatment plan. Depending on the diagnosis, this may include:
- medications to relieve pain,
- immobilizing your wrist or hand with a brace or cast.
Surgery may be necessary if you have a bone fracture or tendon or ligament tear.
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Exercises To Help Aching Wrists
If your wrists feel sore and achy simply from overworking them , you can also do some simple wrist exercises at home to help ease the stiffness and tension.
If youve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel or another condition that affects your wrists, talk with your doctor before trying any wrist exercises.
Symptoms Of Wrist Pain
Wrist pain symptoms can vary depending on the cause. Some people may have pain that they describe as achy or dull, while others may have sharp pain. The location of the pain can also vary.
In addition to pain, other symptoms may develop. Symptoms of an injury, such as a wrist sprain, can include swelling and bruising.
Numbness, tingling, and hand weakness might also occur when pain is due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some people may develop the following symptoms:
- Stiffness: A person may feel this through their wrist and potentially in their fingers.
- Trouble gripping objects: Wrist pain may make grasping or holding on to objects difficult or uncomfortable.
- A clicking sound when moving the wrist: This can be more severe after periods of rest.
Depending on the cause, symptoms may be mild to start and worsen as time goes on.
At first, pain may only occur during certain activities. In time, as the condition worsens, the pain might occur even at rest. Numbness can also progress to the point where a person cannot feel cold or heat and may drop things.
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