Tag Archive for: wrist pain

Wrist Sprain

It is our natural instinct to brace ourselves when we fall and wrists often pay the price. A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments that hold your wrist bones together. Most wrist sprains are minor injuries, that stretch the ligaments further than their limits. But they are usually painful and can be more severe if you tear the ligament. Not properly treating a sprained wrist can lead to further damage not just to the ligaments, but to the cartilage and bones in the wrist. You could suffer increased pain, chronic pain, or arthritis. At OCC – Colorado Center of Orthopedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, their skilled orthopedic specialists will help you find relief with an accurate diagnosis before the injury leads to debilitating complications.


All it takes is a momentary loss of balance. As one slips, it is an automatic impulse to use the hands to catch the fall. However, once the hand hits the ground, the force of the impact bends it back toward the forearm. This stretches the ligaments that connect the wrist and hand too far. The result is tiny tears or even worse, a complete break or tear to the ligament. Wrist sprains can range from mild to severe. There is no specific data on which group of people get the most wrist sprains. They are common injuries in both athletes and non-athletes. They can happen to anyone who takes a fall or gets hit on the wrist, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level. Older adults may be at an increased risk of suffering from wrist sprains due to various health conditions and age-related physical changes. People often confuse a wrist sprain with a wrist strain which is an injury to the tendons.


The wrist, also referred to as the radiocarpal joint, is a complex joint that bridges the hand to the forearm. There are 20 ligaments in the wrist that support eight wrist bones called carpal bones. Ligaments are the connective tissues that connect bones to bones. They could be thought of as tape that holds the bones together at a joint. These ligaments offer stability; when the tissue stretches or tears, the stability of the ligaments and the joints weaken. The carpal bones in the hand attach to the two bones of the forearm: the ulna and radius. They form the carpus, which is the skeletal structure of the wrist joint. The eight bones are arranged in two rows: the proximal row, which is closer to the forearm, and the distal row, which is closer to the hand. They are essential not just for stability but also for flexibility of the wrist joint, allowing for a wide range of movements such as bending, extension, abduction, and adduction. Abduction and adduction at the wrist move the hand away from or toward the midline of the body.


A wrist sprain is typically caused by a traumatic injury to the wrist, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand, but it can also be from repetitive use of the wrist. Wrist sprains can range from a stretch or tiny tear in the fibers that make up the ligament to a complete tear through the ligament or through its attachment to the bone. There are two types of wrist sprains—radial wrist sprains (on the thumb side of the wrist) and ulnar wrist sprains (on the little finger side of the wrist). Wrist sprains are divided into three grades:

  • Pain with minor damage to the ligament
  • Pain, more severe ligament damage, a feeling of looseness to the joint, and some loss of function
  • Pain, a completely torn ligament, severe looseness to the joint, and loss of function

Read more about Wrist Sprains on our new Colorado Springs Orthopedic News Site – Colorado Springs Orthopedic News. Schedule an appointment with a hand and wrist specialist today.

Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome

Wrist pain can keep you from doing both things you love to do and things you need to do to go about life. Ulnar tunnel syndrome can cause debilitating pain that can prevent you from doing that. Caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist, ulnar tunnel syndrome can also cause tingling and numbness in the hand. There is no reason to suffer from the pain and disability of ulnar tunnel syndrome when you can get help at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The orthopedic specialists at CCOE have extensive experience and are well-trained in treating ulnar tunnel syndrome. In their care, you can get back to your normal routine.


Ulnar tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed at the wrist. This reduces blood flow to the nerve and can harm its function. When compressed at the wrist, the malfunction of the nerve can cause numbness and tingling in the little finger (pinky) and the outside of the ring finger. As the median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel in your hand, the ulnar nerve passes through Guyon’s canal at your wrist. For this reason, it may be called Guyon’s canal syndrome. Because of how it affects grip, it is often called handlebar palsy.


The ulnar nerve is one of the arm’s primary nerves. It controls nearly all of the small muscles in the hand. Although the ulnar nerve begins at the armpit, it doesn’t perform a function until it enters the forearm. As a motor (movement) nerve, the ulnar nerve stimulates muscles in the forearm, hand, and fingers, so you can bend and straighten the pinky and ring fingers, grip and hold items and perform fine motor tasks like writing with a pen, buttoning a shirt or turning pages in a magazine. As a sensory nerve, the ulnar nerve gives feeling to the pinky finger, the side of the ring finger closest to the pinky finger, and the palm and back of the hand on the pinky side. As the largest nerve in the body that is not protected by muscle or bone, the ulnar nerve is prone to injury.


Ulnar tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes compressed as it passes through Guyon’s canal, where the wrist meets the palm. This is not to be confused with cubital tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the ulnar nerve compression is at the elbow. When the ulnar nerve is compressed at the wrist, it reduces blood flow to the nerve and can harm its function. Over time, permanent damage to the ulnar nerve may develop, which can lead to permanent numbness, weakness, pain, and tingling in the wrist or hand.

Read more about Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome on our new Colorado Springs Orthopedic News Site – Colorado Springs Orthopedic News. Schedule an appointment with a wrist specialist today.

Exercises that Strengthen Your Hand and Prevent Injuries

As an athlete or active individual, you know how to power your game and keep your body at its fighting best. Workouts and cardio work keep your arms, legs, and torso ready for action – but have you thought about your hands?

Specific hand exercises and routines can help keep your hands strong and healthy. Hand exercise can also benefit people who find that stiffness, pain, or swelling of the hands prevents them from performing daily tasks and enjoying a full life.

How Can I Make My Hands Stronger?

Today, orthopedists and physical therapists have a battery of exercises for the hands and wrists that have proven effective for everyone, whether you’re an athlete or a retiree or somewhere in between. Many of these exercises were first developed for rehabilitation following hand injuries and surgeries.

Below are some of the exercises that can help you strengthen your hands and keep them healthy:

Finger Stretches

Finger stretches are helpful exercises that can help maintain and improve the range of motion of your hands and also help to relieve pain and swelling.

1.    Place your hands palm-down on a flat surface.

2.    Straighten your fingers slowly, while slightly pressing against the flat surface (without applying excessive force).

3.    Once they’re fully straightened, hold this position for 15 seconds.

4.    Release, and repeat three times for each hand. 

Claw Stretches 

Claw stretches maintain and improve the range of motion of your fingers. 

1.    Hold your hands out in front of you with palms facing you.

2.    Bend your fingertips downward within the hand, so each fingertip is touching the base of the finger.

3.    While keeping them bent in this position, pull the fingers back to open the palm. (Now you see why this is called a “claw stretch.”)

4.    Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.

5.    Release, and repeat three times for each hand.

Thumb Stretches

The joints of your thumbs are vulnerable to injury. This exercise helps strengthen these joints and the four major tendons that control your thumb. 

1.    Hold your hands out, palms facing you.

2.    Slowly bend the tip of your thumb down toward the base of your little finger.

3.    Hold this position for 30 seconds.

4.    Release, and repeat three times for each thumb. 

Grip Strengthener 

This exercise is designed to strengthen your grip. You can use a tennis ball, rubber ball, or foam ball.

1.    Hold the ball in your palm, and slowly squeeze it as hard as you can.

2.    Hold this position for five seconds.

3.    Release, and repeat five times for each hand. 

You can repeat these hand workouts two or three times a week, and add more exercises as you go. Stop if you feel pain during or after the exercises; never force the tendons or joints beyond their range of motion.

Contact an Orthopedic Doctor in Colorado Springs

Our medical team at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are experts in sports injuries – and in keeping the body strong to prevent injury in the first place. We offer a full range of therapy, minimally invasive treatments, and bone and joint surgery.

Call us today to make an appointment at our Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment here. Let us help you continue to enjoy the active, pain-free lifestyle you love!

The Complete Guide to Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of hand pain, sensations of numbness and weakness, and that “pins and needles” feeling in the hands. At the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence, we are experts in all aspects of hand and wrist care. That’s why we created this complete guide to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Affecting nearly 10% of the US population, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression or entrapment of the medial nerve. The medial nerve runs under the skin in a narrow passageway known as the carpal tunnel. The tunnel extends from your forearm into your wrist. It is formed by the carpal bones and nine tendons. The medial nerve is responsible for signals to and from the thumb, index, middle and part of your ring finger. If the tendons and connective tissues become inflamed due to overuse or other factors, they can swell, placing pressure on the delicate nerve.

When the nerve is compressed, the signals cannot fire properly and patients often begin to notice pain, a tingling or burning sensation, and numbness. People with carpal tunnel syndrome may have trouble gripping or holding objects, or performing fine motor functions such as writing or playing a guitar. The onset of symptoms tends to be gradual and may come and go, especially at first.

If the condition is left untreated, it can cause the muscles to atrophy (waste away). While either hand can be affected, approximately half of the people diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome experience problems involving both hands.  Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Obesity
  • Work that is highly repetitive, such as typing

Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is highly treatable. Depending on the severity, it may require only rest, bracing, or other treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications. If you do not respond to treatment, surgery may be required.

The most common corrective surgery for carpal tunnel is known as an open release. In an open release procedure, the surgeon can correct the issue by opening a space to relieve pressure on the median nerve. The procedure requires a three-inch incision in what is known as the transverse carpal ligament, in order to enlarge the tunnel. This procedure usually takes about 15 minutes to perform.

This surgery is also possible with an endoscopic carpal tunnel release. An incision is made in the palm of the hand and the surgeon gently slides a small endoscope into the opening. The surgeon then makes another incision in order to insert a specialized instrument that will be used to relieve pressure on the nerve.

After the procedure has been completed, the wound is wrapped in a soft sterile dressing. Patients are required to wear bracing to protect the area and promote healing. Patients can move their fingers right after the surgery, and are advised to avoid gripping heavy objects or picking up heavy loads for another six weeks. To learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other orthopedic related concern, please call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.