Wrist Pain - What can I do about it? When is it serious?

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Using your smartphone and computer regularly can put us at risk of wrist pain.

Over the pandemic period since last year, we have seen an increased incidence of patients coming in to our clinic for painful wrists.

This article will talk about

1. 6 causes of wrist pain that you shouldn't ignore

2. What common causes of wrist pain we see in clinic.

3. Diagnosis, ultrasound scans, and treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in our clinic.

4. Video explaining the Ultrasound Guided Carpal Tunnel Injection

So let's learn what is in our wrist,

and why this wrist pain causes so much distress?

Our wrist is primarily made up of a collection of small bones and is wrapped around in very little protective tissue. It’s not a surprise that many people complain about wrist pain because any problem with any of the small structures can cause pain!

Wrist pain should not be ignored, because there could be an underlying issue causing it, and the more you ignore it, the more likely it might get worse.

There are so many factors that can lead to wrist pain, and because of that, diagnosing the exact cause of your wrist pain can be difficult. To get relief from wrist pain, you’ll need to see your friendly neighbourhood doctor to determine what is causing it and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

6 Causes of Wrist Pain that You Shouldn't Ignore

Here are some causes of wrist pain that you should never ignore. This is what your doctor should be checking for, especially when you see your doctor for wrist pain.

Repetitive Stress Injuries When you perform an activity for long periods, it can cause inflammation around the tissues of the joints and in extreme cases, can cause stress fractures. Sports such as badminton or golf, or even doing repeated pushups excessively, where you have to use your wrist extensively, can cause wrist pain. To protect your wrist, you can wear wrist splints. As much as possible, you should perform wrist exercises to loosen up your joints in the wrists before you use them. Furthermore, take a break often when performing any activity that causes you to use your wrist too much.

Repetitive Stress Injury of the Wrist
Repetitive Stress Injury of the Wrist

Sudden Accidents Sudden accidents such as falling on your hand while it is stretched can cause fractures, and sprains. A fall can cause much pain, and you might not be able to enjoy things for some time.

Wrist Fracture described by Mayo Clinic
Wrist Fracture described by Mayo Clinic

Ganglion Cysts Ganglion cysts are lumps around the hand and wrist that occurs adjacent to joints or tendons.

Wrist Ganglion Cyst
Wrist Ganglion Cyst

Most of the time, it doesn’t need treatment. However, there can be instances where having ganglion cysts can be painful. During these times, the pain that you are experiencing can restrict your ability to move your wrists. If you feel severe pain, then you should immediately seek medical attention to determine the course of treatment that is needed.

Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis is a joint disease in which the tissues in the joint break down over time. Osteoarthritis in the wrist occurs when there has been an injury to the wrist in the past. A person suffering from this condition may experience a flare-up and may be unable to complete a task.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body. Ladies are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis which mainly affects the joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. This condition may cause you to limit your activities. Through medication and physiotherapy, rheumatoid arthritis can be managed.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve runs from the forearm into the palm and becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.

This is common for people who

1. do much typing in their computers or laptops

2. do repetitive actions in a certain direction that uses the wrist, for example digging during gardening, or knitting or crocheting.

It is because they have their wrists in awkward positions for prolonged periods of time, carpal tunnel syndrome develops.

If you do a lot of computer-focused tasks that involve typing, position your hands properly on the keyboard. By doing this, you’re lessening the pressure on the nerves in your wrist, and thus preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Pregnant mothers and mothers who have delivered, are also predisposed to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because of increased fluid retention.

What can you do about that painful wrist?

Our clinic sees quite a number of patients with repetitive stress injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Most of the time, after a careful assessment in clinic, what is needed is a course of medication and rest.

However, in some cases, an ultrasound scan may shed some light on the matter, to differentiate the 6 causes as listed above, and in particular carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries.

Let us learn about the anatomy of the wrist. So as you can see in the picture, the median nerve runs through the tunnel and its constricted on top by the transverse carpal ligament.

Any compression of the median nerve leads to carpal tunnel syndrome as explained earlier.

The ultrasound for this patient in clinic shows the compression of the median nerve, hence the classic pain.

Ultrasound of the Carpal Tunnel showing the Median Nerve
Ultrasound of the Carpal Tunnel showing the Median Nerve

So for this patient what can be done?

After a course of medications, some symptom relief was achieved, but not completely settled.

Ultrasound Guided Injection was offered and conducted. The injection aims to reduce the swelling around the median nerve.

Ultrasound Guided Carpal Tunnel Injection
Ultrasound Guided Carpal Tunnel Injection

In this ultrasound scan image, the median nerve is labelled "M"

The white arrows are pointing to the needle to introduce the injection directly to the swelling area.

Ultrasound Scan showing the Needle injecting
Ultrasound Scan showing the Needle injecting

Post procedure, this patient was given a splint and reviewed a few days later with symptoms fully resolved.

What is Paddington Fast Care and how Fast Care can help you?

Not all pain in the wrist is a cause for panic and medical treatment. However, if you see swelling and the pain is unbearable, do let us know.

At Paddington Medical, we understand that having wrist pain is distressing hence we have created Paddington Fast Care, for you.

In the assessment of wrist, to speed up diagnosis and treatment, we are equipped with an advanced Ultrasound System to conduct immediate Ultrasound scans in clinic.

To speed up the diagnostic process, and only if necessary, we arrange expedited X-Rays or MRI scans for our patients to get same day or next day results, so that our doctors can review the results with you in Paddington Medical.

We are also able to do specialized injections into the wrist to help alleviate the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Paddington Medical works with a team of trusted Orthopaedic (Bone) Surgeons to provide integrated and comprehensive care for our patients. Paddington Fast Care can arrange for expedited care for you with this team of Orthopaedic Surgeons if needed.


Don't suffer in silence any longer, let us help you for your Wrist Pain today!

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