Wrist pain can have a variety of causes. In many cases, it is the result of overuse or repetitive strain injury. Eventually, you may develop small joint arthritis. While preventing such problems is always better than trying to treat them once they occur, both conservative therapy and surgery are available if necessary. Here is some information on wrist pain from typing and other causes, courtesy of the Florida Hand Center.
Hand and Wrist Anatomy
Your marvelously flexible and strong hands get that way because they are composed of multiple small bones and joints. Connected and supported by muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the hands and wrists must work together. All of these anatomical structures must work smoothly to perform tasks as diverse as tying a shoelace, typing on a keyboard or performing surgery. A sore wrist and small joint arthritis can not only limit function but if untreated can cause such damage to joints that they become painful, deformed and incapable of performing basic tasks. One reason typing can cause a sore wrist is that the hands and wrists must be in just the right position to prevent strain on the joints. This is true of similar activities such as playing the piano, needlework or manufacturing tasks.
About Small Joint Arthritis
Although there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common. What all have in common is inflammation of the joints. Arthritis attacks the smooth cartilage that covers the end of the bones. Eventually, the cartilage wears away and the bone is exposed. Fractures and other injuries can also damage the cartilage and cause arthritis (traumatic arthritis). Symptoms typically include pain, joint stiffness, grinding or "crepitus" in the affected joints and decreased grip strength. These symptoms are often worse during cold, rainy weather. Another common cause of a sore wrist is carpal tunnel syndrome, which results when the carpal nerve cannot move freely and becomes irritated and inflamed.
Treatment for Wrist Pain
The first step in dealing with wrist pain is to assess the hand and determine what’s causing the problem. The symptoms may be enough for a diagnosis or you may need X-rays or other imaging studies such as an MRI. Rest is important, as the joint damage will only get worse if you continue the activity causing the problem. Anti-inflammatory medications help relieve pain and inflammation. Some people find it helpful to take supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Joint injections with a long-lasting anesthetic and steroids may provide temporary relief. Splints may support the joint and reduce stress. Finally, if conservative treatment fails, a number of surgeries are available. These include joint replacement, cartilage repair, and carpal tunnel release.
Wrist pain from typing should never be ignored. Preventive strategies may keep it from getting worse and delay the progression of problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and small joint arthritis. If you have a sore wrist, please contact us for an assessment and treatment recommendations.