Woman massaging her arthritic hand and wrist

5 Causes of Wrist Pain

Whether you enjoy an athletic, energetic lifestyle or live a more sedentary, relaxing life, you may sometimes experience wrist pain that can slow down or stop your activities. Many factors can lead to wrist pain, and it’s often difficult to identify the precise cause, but there are some specific activities and conditions that can lead to soreness and pain in your wrists.

The most frequent causes of wrist pain include the following:

1. Injury

The wrist is formed by eight small bones at the base of the hand, called carpal bones, which connect to your forearm bones. The scaphoid bone, located at the base of the thumb, is the wrist bone that is fractured the most often.

Wrist injuries can occur when you fall onto your outstretched hand to catch your fall. Your entire body weight may be thrust onto the wrist area with enough force to cause damage. This action can cause strains, sprains, and fractures.

Tears in the wrist ligaments and tendons are also frequent injuries in athletes. High-impact contact sports such as hockey and football tend to create a higher risk of injury to the wrists.

2. Repetitive Stress

Activities that involve continuous repetitive stress of the hands, wrists, and fingers, such as typing, playing tennis or golf, and even driving for long distances, can eventually lead to wrist injury.

Repetitive use of the wrist can inflame its tendons (tendinitis) or put excessive pressure on local nerves. Certain jobs such as assembly line work, hairdressing, construction, or even sewing can cause repetitive damage to the wrist.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones wears down. Cartilage helps cushion joints and maintains their smooth movement and correct function. If arthritis develops in the wrist, the joints in the wrist area become inflamed and painful and, in extreme cases, may lose movement altogether.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which can be caused by aging, obesity, injury, or the daily wear-and-tear of joints. Arthritis-related pain is often experienced as a dull toothache-like sensation.

Osteoarthritis of the wrist is not common, but it can happen to people who have had wrist fractures in the past. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy joints, can affect both wrists at the same time.

4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, running from the forearm to the palm of the hand, becomes compressed or squeezed by the surrounding tissue. The median nerve crosses the palm side of the wrist at a narrow channel called the carpal tunnel, surrounded by bones and ligaments.

The median nerve is central to the wrist, hand, and finger movement. People sometimes describe the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome as painful pins-and-needles or a tingling sensation. The pain may reach all the way up to the shoulder, and it is usually experienced at night or after working for many hours.

5. Other Diseases and Conditions

Obesity and diabetes can put you at a higher risk of experiencing wrist pain. Conditions that can produce wrist pain include a ganglion cyst, which is a fluid-filled lump that can appear on top of your wrist. It can be drained by a physician, but it usually goes away naturally.

 An underactive thyroid gland can also cause wrist pain and inflammation. Kienbock’s disease is another condition seen in young adults when the blood supply to the bones of the wrist is affected.

Orthopedic Surgeon in Colorado Springs

Our team of physicians at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are experts in wrist, knee, and joint injuries, and we can implement the most effective treatments. When surgery is warranted, our orthopedic surgeons utilize the least invasive techniques available.

For outstanding orthopedic treatment, call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 623-1050 or fill out our online appointment request form. Let us help you stay in the game!