Wrist pain is a relatively common concern for many Americans. This complex joint may hurt for a variety of reasons, and potential treatments vary according to the cause. In most cases, you’ll need the services of a hand surgeon or hand specialist trained in orthopedics who specializes in the hand or wrist. Here’s what you should know about wrist pain, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center.
Wrist Pain: Anatomy Makes a Difference
The wrist is one of the most complex joints in the body. It consists of eight small bones and numerous small joints connected by ligaments. It is the very flexibility and complexity of the wrist that makes it susceptible to pain from injury or overuse. Diagnosing the cause of wrist pain isn’t easy, which is why you should see a hand doctor.
Wrist Pain: Injuries
A fall onto an outstretched wrist or a blow to the wrist may cause broken bones of damaged ligaments. With these injuries, there’s no question you need a hand specialist. Chronic, nagging wrist pain may be less easy to diagnose. Daily activities like typing or the use of certain hand or machine tools can stress joints and ligaments, causing inflammation and pain – these are known as repetitive motion or overuse injuries.
Wrist Pain: Other Problems
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that is more likely to occur in women than men. The disease attacks the joints, making them stiff and painful. Over time rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent deformities in the affected joints. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that runs along the bottom of the wrist below the thumb becomes irritated and swollen because there isn’t enough room between the ligament and the bone in the wrist.
Wrist Pain: Diagnosis
Occasional wrist pain is not necessarily a matter for concern. When the pain becomes persistent or moves from mild to moderate or severe, you should see a hand specialist for an evaluation. He or she will take a history of the problem and also ask about other aspects of your health that may be related, such as family history and joint pain in areas beside the wrist. A physical assessment and diagnostic tests like an X-ray, MRI or arthroscopy (looking inside the wrist with a tiny camera) may also be useful in making a diagnosis.
Wrist Pain: Treatment
Many wrist complaints – especially if they are related to overuse – respond to simple measures like rest, ice and over the counter pain medications. Sometimes a splint can help support the wrist and relieve pain. An injection of a local anesthetic mixed with a steroid medication may be another strategy your hand doctor will suggest. If the pain is due to a ligament injury, fracture or severe carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist or hand surgery may be recommended.
If you have wrist pain, please contact us at the Florida Hand Center. Our hand surgeons can provide you with either conservative treatment or surgery, as appropriate. We serve patients in the Port Charlotte and Fort Myers areas.