Wrist pain is a common complaint seen in the practice. It is often caused by sprains and strains or fractures from sudden injuries. Wrist pain can also be a result of repetitive loads or positions making it prone to tenosynovitis, as well as the common carpal tunnel. Due to the numerous factors that can lead to wrist pain, an accurate diagnosis is essential to provide the most effective treatment plan.
The wrist is a complex joint made up of the carpal bones in the hand and the radius and ulna. It is supported by ligaments and tendon sheaths.
Common injuries to the wrist and hand include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Which is caused by pressure on the median nerve. This can be due to swelling around tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel reducing the space the median nerve has to move through. It is commonly associated with pins and needles or numbness of the thumb, first and second finger. It is usually worse at night. It can be treated with a wrist splint and physiotherapy or surgery if it does not settle.
- Tenosynovitis – This means swelling and inflammation of the tendon sheath. The tendons that move the wrist and fingers usually start at the elbow and move down the forearm. Overuse can lead to tightness of these muscles causing a tenosynovitis. At times this will present as wrist pain.
- Nerve ganglion – Ganglion cysts are small sacs filled with clear jellylike fluid, they often appear as bumps on the hands and wrists. Usually they cause no harm but depending on their location can put pressure on a nerve causing pain, weakness or both.
- De Quervain’s – This is an inflammation of the tendon sheath of the thumb. This can lead to pain with gripping, decreased mobility in the thumb and pain with pushing off.
TFCC (Triangular Fibro-Cartilage Complex) – The TFCC is a small disc like cartilage located on the ulna side of our wrist. Similar to the meniscus in the knee it acts as a shock absorber at the wrist joint. A fall on an outstretched arm can lead to a TFCC tear or injury. It is diagnosed with an MRI and can be treated with specific splinting or surgery if conservative management fails.
- Wrist fracture – Fractures to the wrist are very common. They are most likely caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm and can be of the radius, ulna or carpal bones. Wrist fractures need an X-Ray and early immobilisation in a splint or cast to ensure proper healing takes place.
Wrist pain can be due to numerous underlying factors, if you are having pain in your wrist make an appointment to see our expert Physiotherapists who will assess and guide you in your recovery.