Wrist pain might be simple discomfort, but it can also be an indicator of a serious medical condition. Wrist pain often comes with other symptoms. Individuals might have swollen fingers, numbness or tingling, sharp pains in the hand, warmth near the joint, and difficulty making a fist.
If patients notice their wrist is warm and red and they have a fever more than one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, they need to call a doctor immediately.
To diagnose the reason why individuals are feeling wrist pain, the doctor will likely have patients bend their affected wrist for a minute to test if numbness or tingling develops. They might also take x-rays to see how healthy the patient’s bones and joints are.
What Causes Wrist Pain?
Get to know some of the major reasons why individuals might experience wrist pain now.
1. Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis or might be one of the causes of wrist pain. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage of the joint is worn away, causing the bone to rub on bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is more severe and is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself instead of the intruders.
Osteoarthritis is caused by normal wear and tear on the joints. It is the most common type of arthritis and is considered a natural breakdown of cartilage.
However, rheumatoid arthritis causes the soft tissues of the joints to stop producing synovium, or the liquid that keeps joints moving smoothly. The disease could eventually destroy both the cartilage and bone of the joint.
Arthritis is typically diagnosed if patients can feel fluid around their joints or if they have a limited range of motion in the wrist. If individuals have warm or red joints, they might also suffer from arthritis.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by excess pressure on the wrist, forces the affected wrist to press on the median nerve as it passes through to the hand. The nerve is located on the inner wrist, also called the carpal tunnel, which is where it gets the name from.
The nerve allows patients to feel their fingers and thumb, creating an electrical impulse to the muscles. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by excess pressure on the wrist.
Individuals are more likely to get carpal tunnel if they have thyroid dysfunction, fluid retention, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, or fractures. It can also be damaged further if patients constantly overextend their wrist.
An extension of the wrist includes the way individuals hold their wrists to type or move the mouse, the vibrations for power tools, repeated movements like typing or playing the piano.
Most patients who develop carpal tunnel syndrome are between thirty and sixty years old. Lifestyle factors can have an impact on an individual’s risk of the disease like a sedentary lifestyle, high BMI, high salt intake, or smoking.
3. Kienbock’s Disease
Kienbock’s disease is rarer than carpal tunnel syndrome. It disrupts the blood as it is on the way to the carpal bones in the wrist. The lunate, one of the carpal bones in the wrist, is in the center of the wrist and it is vital for wrist movement.
In the beginning, the disease causes pain. However, as it progresses, it causes the tissue and bone to die, resulting in the immobility of the wrist and arthritis.
Typically it will only affect one wrist. If patients notice they have tenderness over the wrist bone, stiffness, lack of grip, swelling, or difficulty turning the hand upward, they might have KIenbock’s disease. It typically progresses through four stages, and it is believed to progress quickly.
The first stage might not show damage in x-rays, but by the fourth stage, the lunate has deteriorated. When the lunate deteriorates, it causes arthritis in the wrist, and it can be debilitating in the final stage.
4. Repetitive Stress
Repetitive stress on the joint can also cause the damage to building up in the wrist, leading to a repetitive strain injury. This occurs when the wrist does repetitive moments constantly, causing the tendons and muscles to become damaged over the course of a significant period.
Some activities increase the risk of repetitive stress on the joint like typing, using a mouse, working at an assembly line, swiping items at the checkout, grasping tools, or training for sports.
Symptoms may start slowly and then become more consistent and intense. It may even prevent individuals from performing their typical activities. Individuals who have desk jobs are more at risk of developing repetitive injuries.
However other occupations can also be at risk. Cooks, cleaners, bus drivers, musicians, and dental hygienists might be at risk as well because they perform the same motions many times over a long time.
To diagnose this disorder, the physician will ask patients about their activities and what they do for work, trying to discover what movements they do repetitively throughout the day. The exam will also consist of several motion tests, while also searching for inflammation and tenderness.
5. Wrist Trauma
Wrist trauma can also be one of the causes of wrist pain. Typical wrist injuries include sprains, fractures, dislocating the PIP joint, and other injuries to the bone.
Sprains occur when the ligament in the joint is damaged. It connects the bone to the tissue, and it is typically damaged when there is enough force. There are several different grades of sprains including minor tears and entire ruptures.
Wrist sprains happen when individuals catch themselves when falling by putting their hands out. This causes individuals to land hard on their palm, causing their wrist to bend backward and straining the ligaments.
The bones in the joint can also become fractured or dislocated. Fractures can be common sports injuries. Typically this is the fracture of the scaphoid bone, one of the small bones in the wrist.