Pain - wrist; Pain - carpal tunnel; Injury - wrist; Arthritis - wrist; Gout - wrist; Pseudogout - wrist
Wrist pain is any pain or discomfort in the wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: A common cause of wrist pain is carpal tunnel syndrome. You may feel aching, burning, numbness, or tingling in your palm, wrist, thumb, or fingers. The thumb muscle can become weak, making it difficult to grasp things. Pain may go up to your elbow.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve gets compressed at the wrist because of swelling. This is the nerve in the wrist that allows feeling and movement to parts of the hand. Swelling can occur if you:
Injury: Wrist pain with bruising and swelling is often a sign of an injury. Signs of a possible broken bone include deformed joints and inability to move the wrist, hand, or a finger. There can also be cartilage injuries in the wrist. Other common injuries include sprain, strain, tendinitis, and bursitis.
Arthritis: Arthritis is another common cause of wrist pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are many types of arthritis:
For carpal tunnel syndrome, you may need to make adjustments to your work habits and environment:
For a recent injury:
For non-infectious arthritis:
Get emergency care if:
Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:
Call your provider for an appointment if you have any of the following:
Your provider will perform a physical exam. You will be asked about your symptoms. Questions may include when the wrist pain began, what may have caused the pain, whether you have pain elsewhere, and if you have had a recent injury or illness. You may also be asked about the type of job you have and your activities.
X-rays may be taken. If your provider thinks that you have an infection, gout, or pseudogout, fluid may be removed from the joint to examine under a microscope.
Anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed. Injection with a steroid medicine may be done. Surgery may be needed to treat some conditions.
Marinello PG, Gaston RG, Robinson EP, Lourie GM. Hand and wrist diagnosis and decision making. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR. eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 67.
Swigart CR, Fishman FG. Hand and wrist pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Kelly and Firestein's Textbook of Rheumatology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 50.
Zhao M, Burke DT. Median neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome). In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 36.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 5/13/2019
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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