Wrist pain is any pain or discomfort in the wrist.
Pain - wrist
Carpal tunnel syndrome: A common cause of wrist pain is carpal tunnel syndrome. You may feel aching, burning, numbness, or tingling in your palm, wrist, thumb, or fingers. The thumb muscle can become weak, making it difficult to grasp things. Pain may extend up to your elbow.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve gets compressed at the wrist because of swelling. This is the nerve in the wrist that allows feeling and movement to parts of the hand. Swelling can occur if you:
Do repetitive movements with your wrist, such as typing on a computer keyboard, using a computer mouse, playing racquetball or handball, sewing, painting, writing, or using a vibrating tool
Are pregnant, menopausal, or overweight
Have diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, an underactive thyroid, or rheumatoid arthritis
Injury: Wrist pain with bruising and swelling is often a sign of an injury. Signs of a possible broken bone include deformed joints and inability to move the wrist, hand, or a finger. Other common injuries include sprain, strain, tendinitis, and bursitis.
Arthritis: Arthritis is another common cause of wrist pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are many types of arthritis:
Are you involved in activities requiring repetitious hand and wrist movements, such as sewing, knitting, computer keyboard use?
X-rays may be taken. If your health care provider thinks that you have an infection, gout, or pseudogout, fluid may be removed from the joint to examine under a microscope.
Anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed. Injection with a steroid medicine may be done. Surgery may be needed to treat some conditions.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:
Adjust your keyboard so that you do not have to bend your wrist upward while typing.
Take frequent breaks from activities that require wrist movement.
Work with an occupational therapist.
To prevent gout attacks:
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Drink plenty of water.
Eat lower amounts of liver, anchovies, sardines, and herring.
Your doctor may prescribe medication.
Shebab R. Evaluation and diagnosis of wrist pain: a case-based approach. Am Fam Physician. 2013;87:568-573.
Swigart CR. Hand and wrist pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al., eds. Kelly's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 50.
C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.