When wrist pain starts, you may not know the cause if it’s not from a sudden injury. Long-term problems like repetitive stress injuries cause many instances of wrist pain. Although diagnosing the cause of wrist pain can be complicated with so many factors in play, an accurate diagnosis is necessary for proper healing. While not all wrist pain requires medical intervention, pain that lasts longer than a couple of days or becomes worse should be evaluated by a doctor. That’s because delayed diagnosis and treatment usually have less favorable treatment success and can diminish your range of motion as a result.
Common causes of wrist pain include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Wrist injury
- Other diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, or pregnancy
How Your Doctor Will Make a Diagnosis
To determine what’s causing your wrist pain, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and order any necessary tests to pinpoint the cause. During your physical exam, you will be asked to bend the wrist to check for tingling sensations, your grip strength will be tested, and your doctor may tap the median nerve to see if you experience any pain. Your doctor may also check for swelling or deformity during this exam. Further testing will be necessary, such as like X-rays to evaluate the joints and bone. Your doctor may also perform electromyography to assess your nerve health, and other tests to detect any underlying medical conditions.
Wrist Pain Treatment
Depending on the cause of your wrist pain, treatment will vary. Your treatment regimen may involve wearing a wrist brace or splint to ease pain and reduce swelling, using cold/heat therapy, and taking over-the-counter painkillers. If your pain does not respond to these nonsurgical treatments, you may need to have surgery to repair specific structures in the wrist. Common wrist surgeries include carpal tunnel release surgery, stabilization of broken bones, or tendon/ligament repair.
You can’t prevent wrist injuries in some cases, but you can protect yourself with some smart thinking. For example, build your bone strength by making sure you get enough calcium, prevent falls by wearing sensible shoes, using protective gear for working out, and taking regular breaks from repetitive movements.