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Wrist Pain: Cause and Treatment

Are you suffering from wrist pain and looking for a solution to relieve your pain? Is your wrist pain preventing you from typing, handling tools, and impacting your hand functioning? Then, you are reading the right blog to help know the probable causes of your wrist pain and some of the treatments to alleviate your wrist pain (figure 1).

Figure 1 : Painful wrist

Causes of wrist pain

Wrist pain can occur from numerous conditions such as sudden and direct trauma to your wrist or from repetitive strain injuries. Sudden traumatic injuries to the wrist include fractures or sprains around the wrist joint following a fall on the hands. Also, repetitive movements at wrist joints may enable wrist pain conditions such as Carpal Tunnel syndrome or De Quatrain’s Tenosynovitis.

Wrist pain can occur due to the following reason


  • Sprains/Strains

Sprains/Strains can occur due to an injury where the ligaments or muscles are overstretched beyond their limits, leading to wrist pain, swelling, bruising, discoloration, burning and/or tingling.

  • Tendonitis

Tendons join muscles and bones together. Inflammation of the tendon is called as tendonitis. Flexor tendons are present at the palm side of the wrist, they work in grasping activities and extensor tendons are present on the top side of the wrist helping in straightening the fingers. In tendonitis, you may experience dull aching pain, morning stiffness, and abnormal crepitus sound at your wrist when moved.

  • Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Syndrome is a condition impacting your tendon sheath which covers the tendon on the thumb side of the wrist. In this condition, the tendon sheath which helps in smooth gliding of the tendons is inflamed. The condition causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist. Females of around 30-50 years of age are commonly affected by De Quatrain’s Tenosynovitis (figure 2).

Figure 2 : De Quervain’s Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the median nerve is compressed or pinched off in the wrist and leading to nerve symptoms. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occur from continual repetitive movements at the wrist or by fluid retention. There is discomfort at night with numbness and tingling in palm, thumb, index and middle finger (Figure 3)

Figure 3: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Fractures

Fractures may occur due to a direct injury to the wrist bones or bone weakness such as osteoporosis. Scaphoid fractures are commonly seen after a fall on outstretched hand. Scaphoid is a curved boat shaped bone on the thumb side of the wrist. Wrist pain, swelling, pain and tenderness at the wrist may occur from scaphoid fracture (figure 4). Pinching and /or grasping activities are difficult to perform and the wrist is pain during these activities.

Figure 4 : Scaphoid fracture
  • Arthritis

Other causes of wrist pain are arthritic conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common condition which causes wrist pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is less common cause of wrist pain but might most likely occur as a result of prior wrist injuries. Another condition called gout arthritis may affect the wrist joint and impact wrist pain.

  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is also known as Ulnar Neuropathy (Figure 5). In this condition, there is ulnar nerve compression at the elbow, and this might refer pain to your wrist with numbness in the fourth and fifth fingers. The causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome are like those of carpal tunnel syndrome described above.

Figure 5 : • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cervical Radiculopathy

Nerve pinching in cervical area leading to C6 or C7 nerve root compression sometimes give rise to symptoms like tingling or numbness in palm and three fingers. Cervical stenosis, herniation, or osteoarthritis are common causes of nerve root compression and can also be a reason for your wrist pain.

What to do for your wrist pain

While wrist pain could be problematic, our physiotherapists might advise you to observe a procedure called RICE, to relieve your wrist pain.  RICE is an acronym for.

  • Rest – R

This means that you should rest your painful wrist joint. Do not repeat activities which increases your wrist pain and symptoms.

  • Ice -I

Ice application for about 20 minutes every four hours could also be recommended, especially in the first two days when swelling might be pronounced at the wrist.

  • Compression – C

Use compression bandages around your wrist. Ensure to have the bandage properly tied such that the blood flow of the hand is not affected. Numbness, tingling, and blue discolouration of the hand might be a sign of poor circulation.

  • Elevate – E

Elevate your painful wrist and the entire limb to reduce swelling.  You can use a pillow for support. In this way, the gravity might help to reduce swelling in your wrist.

However, if your wrist pain persists, there may be need to see a physiotherapist for a comprehensive assessment and treatments.

What physiotherapists will do to relieve your wrist pain?

While RICE might help to alleviate your symptoms, you might consider seeing a physiotherapist for further assessment and treatment. Especially when your wrist pain is from fracture and severe wrist conditions which requires experts’ treatments.

At Rhema-Gold Physiotherapy, Rehabilitation, & Wellness Centre, our physiotherapists will perform a comprehensive assessment and conduct special tests on your wrist. Some of the special tests may include.

  • Tinel’s Test:

This test is mostly used in carpal tunnel syndrome but can also be used for others, like cubital tunnel syndrome. Tinel test is performed by lightly taping over the nerve at your wrist to elicit your symptoms. The test is said to be positive if the symptoms like pins and needles are present. The test is positive when there is pressure neuropathy of the nerve. 

  • Finkelstein’s Test:

Another test that our physiotherapist can perform is the Finkelstein’s test. It is performed such that you make a fist with keeping the thumb inside it. Our physiotherapist then bends the wrist towards the little finger. If this procedure gives rise to pain in the tendon along the thumb region, the test for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis is positive.

After rigorous assessment and testing, our physiotherapists will design an appropriate treatment plan that are suitable for your specific wrist pain and symptoms.

For Inflammation and pain, the physiotherapists might use modalities like Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulator (TENS), interferential therapy (IFT), ultrasound, and might also give you some specific exercises and manual therapy that are suitable for your wrist pain.

Our physiotherapists at Rhema-Gold Physiotherapy, may also prescribe support braces where applicable.

  • Brace/Splints are special splints/braces often used to support the wrist in the case of sprain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis.
  • Plaster cast might be warranted until proper healing occurs if there is a fracture. Our physiotherapists will continue to address your wrist pain and hand functions while your wrist is in the cast and when the cast it is removed.

So, if you are suffering from wrist pain, what are you waiting for? Simply call us at 4034541958 to book an appointment to see one of our physiotherapists and rehabilitation experts. You can also book your appointment online at rhemagoldphysiorehab.ca

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