Richard N. Hess, MD, FACS
Your wrist connects your hand to your forearm. It is not one big joint; it has several small joints. This makes it flexible and allows you to move your hand in different ways. The wrist has two big forearm bones and eight small bones known as carpals. It also has tendons and ligaments, which are connective tissues. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Ligaments connect bones to each other.
What are the types of wrist injuries and disorders?
Some of the more common types of wrist injuries and disorders are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, which happens when a nerve that runs from your forearm into your palm becomes squeezed at the wrist
- Ganglion cysts, which are noncancerous lumps or masses
- Gout, which is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in your joints
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear of the joints.
- Sprains and strains, which are injuries to ligaments and injuries to muscles or tendons
- Tendinitis, inflammation of a tendon, usually due to overuse
Who is at risk for wrist injuries and disorders?
Certain things can put you at higher risk of having a wrist problem, including:
- Doing sports, which can put you at risk for injuries and puts stress on your wrist. For example, you may fall on your outstretched hand when you are skating or snowboarding. Your wrist could be injured while doing contact sports. And other sports such as gymnastics and basketball can strain your wrists.
- Doing repetitive wrist motions, such as typing on a keyboard, working on an assembly line, or using power tools.
- Having certain diseases. For example, rheumatoid arthritis can cause wrist pain.
What are the symptoms of wrist injuries and disorders?
The symptoms of a wrist problem can vary, depending on the problem. A common symptom is wrist pain. Some other possible symptoms include swelling, a decrease in wrist strength, and sudden numbness or tingling.
How are wrist injuries and disorders diagnosed?
Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:
- A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
- A physical exam, including checking your wrist strength and range of motion
- An x-ray or other imaging test
- Blood tests
What are the treatments for wrist injuries and disorders?
Treatments for wrist pain depends on the type of injury or disorder. They may include:
- Resting your wrist
- Wearing a wrist brace or cast
- Pain relievers
- Cortisone shots
- Physical therapy
Can wrist injuries and disorders be prevented?
To try to prevent wrist problems, you can:
- Use wrist guards, when doing sports that put you at risk for wrist injuries
- In the workplace, perform stretching exercises and take frequent rest breaks. You should also pay attention to ergonomics to make sure that you are using the proper wrist position while working.
- Make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong