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Wrist Pain


Disease: Wrist Pain Wrist Pain
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases

Disease Definition:

Sudden injuries that result in sprains or fractures are the cause of many of the types of wrist pain. However, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress and arthritis are some of the long-term problems that may also result in wrist pain.


The fact that so many things can cause wrist pain makes it difficult to diagnose the precise cause of long-lasting wrist pain. Moreover, treatment depends on the cause and severity of the wrist pain, making an accurate diagnosis a crucial factor.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


There are different kinds of wrist pain, based on the cause. For instance, a sharp and stabbing type of pain is caused by tendinitis, while a pain similar to a dull toothache is caused by osteoarthritis. Telling the doctor the exact location of the pain may be helpful in diagnosing the cause of the wrist pain.


Ice, rest and over-the-counter medications are helpful in managing minor sprains and strains. This means that not all wrist pain requires medical care. However, medical care will be required in case the pain and swelling become worse or if they last for more than a few days. Long-term disability, poor healing or reduced range of motion may result from delays in diagnosis and treatment.


Eight small bones arranged in two rows between the bones in the forearm and the bones in the hand make up the wrist, which is a complex joint. The wrist bones are connected to each other and to the forearm bones and hand bones by tough bands of ligament. The muscles are attached to bones by tendons. A person’s ability to use his/her wrist and hand may be affected and pain may result in case damage occurs to any of the parts of the wrist.




Repetitive stress:

The tissues around the joints may be inflamed or stress fractures may be caused by any activity that involves repetitive wrist motion, from hitting a tennis ball to driving cross-country, especially when these movements are performed for hours on end without a break. One type of repetitive stress injury that causes pain at the base of the thumb is De Quervain’s disease.


Sudden impacts:

Falling forward onto an outstretched hand is the most common way of injuring the wrist. Sprains, strains and even fractures may result from this.





Osteoarthritis in the wrist is an uncommon disease that occurs only in people who have injured their wrist in the past. Wear and tear on the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones is the cause of osteoarthritis. This disease may cause pain at the base of the thumb.


Rheumatoid arthritis:

A common condition in the wrist is rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Usually, both wrists are affected by this condition.




Kienbock’s disease:

Causing a progressive collapse of one of the small bones in the wrist, this disease usually affects young adults. When the blood supply to a bone is compromised, this disease occurs.


Carpal tunnel syndrome:

When there’s increased pressure on the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel, which is a passageway in the palm side of the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs.


Ganglion cysts:

On the top of the wrist opposite the palm is where these soft tissue cysts usually occur. Larger ganglion cysts don’t cause pain as much as smaller ones do.


Although wrist pain can happen to anyone, but there are some factors that may increase the risk:



Osteoporosis makes bones brittle and more susceptible to fractures. Older adults are more likely to have osteoporosis, fall and develop arthritis.


Participating in sports:

Some of the sports that commonly cause wrist injury include:


  • Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Golf
  • Rollerblading
  • Bowling
  • Basketball
  • Skateboarding
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Snowboarding



Partly because of hormonal changes, some pregnant women may develop carpal tunnel syndrome in their second and third trimesters. Swelling in the carpal tunnel results from shifts in the balance of estrogen and progesterone that cause the body to retain more fluid.


Repetitive work:

Disabling wrist pain may result from almost any activity that involves the hands and wrists if performed forcefully enough, even cutting hair and knitting.


Diseases and conditions:

People’s risk of developing wrist pain increases in case they have:


  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Paget’s disease
  • Scleroderma





Based on the type, location and severity of the injury and the age and overall health of the patient, wrist pain treatments vary greatly.




Pain relievers:

Wrist pain may be reduced with some over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. There are also prescription pain relievers that are stronger.



Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that can be injected in the area of the wrist pain in case its cause is inflammation.



For a broken bone in the wrist to heal properly, the pieces need to be aligned. While the bone fragments heal, they can be held together with the help of a cast. In the case of a sprained or strained wrist, in order to protect the injured tendon or ligament while it heals, the person may need to wear a splint. With overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions, splints can be especially helpful.



Surgery may be necessary in some cases such as:


Carpal tunnel syndrome:

The tunnel may need to be cut open to relieve the pressure on the nerve in case the symptoms are severe.


Tendon or ligament repair:

Tendons or ligaments that have ruptured may need to be repaired with surgery.


Severely broken bones:

In some cases, metal hardware may be needed in holding the fragments of bone together.


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Consultants Corner

Samir Moussa M.D.

Samir Moussa M.D. ENT Specialist

Dr. Hani Najjar

Dr. Hani Najjar Pediatrics, Neurology

Dr. Talal Sabouni


Dr . Dirar Abboud

Dr . Dirar Abboud Hepatologist – Gastroenterologist

Dr. Tahsin Martini

Dr. Tahsin Martini Degree status: M.D. in Ophthalmology

Dr. Samer Al-Jneidy

Dr. Samer Al-Jneidy Pediatrician

Dr. Faisal Dibsi

Dr. Faisal Dibsi Specialist of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Yaser Habrawi , F.R.C.S.Ed

Yaser Habrawi , F.R.C.S.Ed Consultant Ophthalmologist

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