Our hands, from fingertips to wrists, are one of the most used and structurally complex parts of our body. As we use hands in almost all of our physical tasks, sometimes, overwork and certain other factors lead to wear and tear of tissues and tendons. The affected wrist may develop a number of issues, with pain being the most commonly reported problem. There can be various causes of wrist pain, and if the pain persists, the patient must consult a specialist as soon as possible. Continuing the discussion further, in this blog post, we discuss the common causes of hand wrist pain, diagnostic procedures, and possible treatments.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when there is an increased pressure on the carpal tunnel – a passageway in the palm side of the wrist. As the median nerve passing through the wrist is compressed, the patient experiences wrist pain along with other symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness.
Also known as tenosynovitis, the condition is characterized by inflammation of the tendons around the wrist, causing a debilitating wrist pain. The symptoms include swelling, redness, and a grinding sensation in the motion of the tendons.
De Quervain’s Disease
The condition can be attributed to repeated thumb and wrist motions, which causes inflammation and swelling of the tendons and sheath on the thumb side of the wrist.
Writer’s Cramps, also known as Mogigraphia, occurs due to a spasm in the muscles of the hands or forearms. A suitable example would be the cramps due to repeated finger strokes on the keyboard.
Bone, Muscle and Joint Related Issues
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that may affect any joint of the body, including the wrists and fingers. As the cartilage between a joint wears out with age or due to any other factor, the bones start rubbing against each other, and the condition is called Wrist Osteoarthritis characterized by stiffness, inflammation and severe pain in the wrist.
Though Dupuytren’s disease typically affects the ring and little fingers, in severe cases, it can impact the hand motion.
Ganglion cysts, occurring on the back of the wrist, are benign, fluid-filled capsules that form bumps on the wrist, which may be accompanied by pain.
Kienbock’s disease is a disorder of the wrist wherein the blood supply to one of the small bones of the wrist is interrupted, which may cause pain.
Wrist sprains arising from an injury to the ligaments around the wrist joint can cause pain and restrict the upper-limb motion.
A sudden blow to the wrist may leave a broken wrist to cause immense pain in the wrist for a long period.
The doctor begins the diagnosis of wrist pain by assessing the level of motion in the wrist and looking for visible symptoms such as tenderness, swelling and deformity around the wrist area. In case a surface level check is insufficient to diagnose the cause, the doctor may prescribe the following:
X-ray scans are helpful in revealing signs of osteoarthritis and fractures in the wrist.
Provides a comprehensive view of the wrist bones and help spot fractures that otherwise go unnoticed in X-ray scans.
Used for obtaining a detailed picture of bones and other soft tissues in the wrist.
Comprehensive tests to visualize tendons, ligaments, and cysts.
In certain cases, imaging tests are not enough to identify the cause of the pain. That’s when arthroscopy helps. In this diagnostic procedure, the doctor makes a small incision on the wrist to insert an endoscope (a tube-like instrument with a camera-mounted tip to capture and analyze images on a monitor in real-time.
If Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the suspected cause, the doctor orders an electromyogram to assess and record electrical activity in the muscles. The test provides a comprehensive picture of all events, when the muscles contract and expand and slow electrical impulses in the carpal tunnel point towards Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The treatment of wrist pain depends on a number of factors, such as the intensity and duration of the pain, as well as the age and health of the patient. Possible treatments include:
Over the counter analgesics provide temporary relief from wrist pain and need to be taken as required, or as prescribed by the doctor. Commonly prescribed pain relievers include ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Physiotherapy can help restore wrist motion and provide relief from pain. Additionally, an ergonomic analysis of the work environment can help in highlighting the activities that might be hurting the wrist.
Cast or Splint
In case of a broken wrist bone, a cast or splint is used to hold the bone fragments while they heal. Even with a cast or splint, the patient needs to take special care to avoid any undue stress on the wrist.
Sever cases of wrist pain involving broken bones, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or a need of tendon or ligament repair call for a surgical treatment. In such cases, patients need to consult a physician to discuss the possible surgical options.
The Way Forward
Though ice packs and heat application can relieve intermittent wrist pain, it seldom helps in cases of chronic wrist pain. As wrist pain is attributable to multiple causes, it is advisable to consult a specialist rather than relying on over-the-counter painkillers. If you too have been dealing with wrist pain, it’s time to end the problem, for good. Consult the experts at Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center to learn more about wrist pain causes and treatment. To book an appointment, call us at 1-888-608-4762 or fill out our contact form and we will get in touch with you, shortly.