Wrist pain: Causes, symptoms and pain relief
Why is my wrist so painful?
The wrist, also known as the radiocarpal joint, is a complex collection of bones, joints and ligaments that link the hand to the forearm. With so many different moving parts, wrist pain can be caused by a multitude of complaints.
If you’re wondering ‘Why is my wrist so painful?’, you’re not alone. Hand and wrist pain affects around 10% of the UK population.* This article can help guide you through the various causes, symptoms and relief solutions for wrist pain.
Wrist Pain Causes
Wrist pain can happen to anyone at any time, but there is an increased risk from certain medical conditions, playing sports or undertaking repetitive activities. Generally speaking, the causes of wrist pain come under two categories:
Sudden impact injuries – Falling on an outstretched hand, when playing sport for example, can cause immediate musculoskeletal injuries: strains, sprains or fractures.
Repetitive stress – Any repetitive activity, from typing to knitting to playing tennis, can inflame the tissues around joints, causing stress fractures or dull aches.
Arthritis – Osteoarthritis can occur in a wrist that’s been previously injured. Rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist is much more common and leaves the joint inflamed and feeling tender.
Carpal tunnel syndrome – This often develops as the result of another condition e.g. pregnancy or diabetes. It’s caused by increased pressure on the median nerve in the wrist and can be debilitatingly painful.
Gout – Gout can affect a range of joints around the body, including the wrists. Excess uric acid that builds up in the body and cannot be expelled can build up in the joints, causing painful inflammatory arthritis and swelling in the affected areas. While gout is known to affect the knees, ankles and toe joints, the wrist can also be affected.
Ulnar Wrist Pain
Ulnar wrist pain is an often-diagnosed type of pain that’s specifically located on the pinkie side of the wrist. The name ‘ulnar pain’ is a catch-all term linked to any number of different wrist injuries.
A frequent cause is a fall onto outstretched hands that causes bones in the wrist to break. Certain professionals like carpenters or plumbers are also at risk if they bend their wrists awkwardly using tools in small spaces.
Wrist Pain Symptoms
Because so many different ligaments, bones and joints meet at the wrist, correctly diagnosing the cause of wrist pain can sometimes be difficult. If you’re unsure as to what’s causing pain in your wrist, matching the following symptoms is a good general guide.
Aching wrist pain – Arthritis, osteoarthritis more over than rheumatoid arthritis, can be described as feeling like a dull toothache. Injuries brought about by repetitive stresses are known to ongoing, low-level aches.
Numbness or pins and needles – This type of pain in the wrist is often linked to carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are notable for becoming worse at night.
Pain, swelling and bruising – This type of pain is an indication of a soft tissue injury, like a sprained wrist.
Sudden, sharp pain and swelling – These symptoms around the wrist typically denote a broken finger or thumb
Shooting wrist pain – Shooting pain is a classic symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by sudden pressure on the nerve. It’s a debilitating type of pain that’s consistent with general nerve damage around the wrist and hand.
Wrist Pain Treatment
Treating wrist pain is made more difficult by the amount that we regularly move our hands and wrists. But if you’re struggling with it, it’s important to try some of the following pain-relieving treatments, which in the case of injuries, can also stimulate the healing process.
- Rest – Don’t use your wrist for a time if you can help it, particularly if certain activities e.g. piano playing or typing are causing obvious pain.
- Exercise – See our five wrist pain exercises you can do at home to start getting relief.
- Ice – With a minor wrist injury, try an ice pack on the area for up to 20 minutes every 2-3 hours to bring down any swelling.
- Painkillers – Readily available painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol will help with wrist pain, although they should not be viewed as long-term solutions due to the risks and side effects. Stronger painkillers can be prescribed by your GP for more intense wrist pain.
- Therapy – A physical therapist will be able to suggest bespoke treatments based on specific wrist injuries.
- Splints – If you have broken a bone or sprained your wrist, holding it in place with a splint or similar until it’s healed will aid the speed of recovery.
- Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be necessary – your GP will advise you.
- BioWaveGO – Where wrist pain isn’t connected to broken bones, BioWaveGO’s pain-relieving technology provides deep relief. This is a completely drug-free solution to wrist pain.
How BiowaveGO Targets Wrist Pain
- Our innovative, electric waves block pain directly at the nerve for an effective treatment that is 100% drug-free
- Simply place our electrodes at the source of pain around your knee
- Turn on your device for a discrete 30-minute treatment session
- Our revolutionary pain-relief technology gives you lasting relief for up to eight hours