As you get older, it’s not uncommon to develop pain in various places. When that pain occurs in the wrist, it can really limit your daily activities. The complexity and flexibility of the wrist are crucial to work and play, so pain can have a serious effect, especially if it becomes chronic. Conservative therapy may be helpful, but in some cases wrist pain really demands a surgical solution. Please read on for more about wrist conditions that can cause pain and possible solutions, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center.
Anatomy and Wrist Pain
The wrist is not a single joint but is made up of eight different bones. While the muscles that control the wrist are actually in the forearm, the wrist bones are connected by ligaments that control their movement and stabilize the wrist joint itself. Even a relatively minor problem in one of these multiple moving parts can result in pain in the wrist. If you limit movement because of pain, the joint may become stiff and less functional. The complexity of the wrist also means that diagnosing the problem can take a bit of doing.
Wrist Pain From Injuries
Although an acute injury like a fall can result in a sprained or fractured wrist, repetitive motion injuries are particularly common in the older person or in some occupations. For example, secretaries who type and use a computer mouse, and carpenters who spend a lot of time swinging a hammer can both be susceptible to overuse that results in pain. If the initial pain is the result of an injury, chronic pain can result even after the problem is supposedly healed.
Other Reasons for Pain in the Wrists
Arthritic and degenerative conditions are common reasons for pain in the hands and wrists. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is more likely to affect women than men, often results in pain, stiffness and deformities. Degenerative arthritis occurs with age and general wear and tear on the joints; if the cartilage covering the bones is worn away, the joints can become very painful. Nerve conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause pain in the wrist.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Persistent or severe pain is an indication that you should see a hand specialist. Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in the hand and wrist will make the diagnosis based on your history, symptoms and the results of a physical examination, and diagnostic studies like X-rays. Conservative treatment is usually the first step. Rest, supportive devices like a brace or splint, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy may help with symptoms. A joint injection with cortisone may provide relief for several months to a year. However, your condition can still progress despite treatment. If that’s the case, surgery may be the best solution.
When wrist pain becomes chronic and hampers your daily activities or if the pain is severe, please contact us. Our surgeons specialize in hand and wrist conditions and can provide you with both conservative care and surgery. We’ll be happy to schedule you for an assessment.