Have you ever sat down at your desk, started to type and felt a sharp pain shoot through your wrist? Does that pain persist, making it difficult to carry out the simplest of tasks? If you’ve been experiencing pain in one or both of your wrists lately, read this guide to find out what the cause of pain is and how to treat it.
Symptoms And Causes Of Wrist Pain
The symptoms of wrist pain vary, depending on what the cause is. If you’re displaying any of the symptoms below, carpal tunnel syndrome may be the cause of the problem.
- Aching, tingling, burning or numbness is your wrist, hand, fingers and thumb
- Pain that radiates toward your elbow
- Difficulty grasping or holding things
- Difficulty typing or using a mouse
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of wrist pain. Carpal tunnel is usually a result of doing repetitive movements such as typing, writing, painting and drawing, but it can also be brought on by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, an underactive thyroid and obesity. Pregnancy, menopause and premenstrual syndrome have been linked to carpal tunnel as well.
If your symptoms are similar to those of carpal tunnel syndrome, but are accompanied by swelling and stiffness, your wrist pain may be caused by arthritis. Another cause of wrist pain is an injury such as a sprain, strain or broken bone. Symptoms of such an injury include difficulty moving your wrist and/or hand, bruising and swelling of the area. These symptoms are also indicative of tendinitis or bursitis.
Other possible causes of wrist pain include gout, which is the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints, or pseudogout, which is the accumulation of calcium in the joints.
If your symptoms are persistent, or if they get worse, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out the cause of the problem. Your doctor will probably perform a physical exam to find out where the source of tenderness is and to gauge your range of motion. He or she may also perform tests such as:
- Imaging tests like CT scans, MRIs and X-rays
- Arthroscopy, which is procedure where a tiny instrument attached to a camera is inserted into the wrist and the images of the wrist are projected onto a TV screen
- Nerve tests, which send electrical impulses into your nerves to test for carpal tunnel syndrome
How To Care For Your Wrist
The type of treatment you receive will depend on the cause of pain. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary, but sometimes a little physical therapy and medication can go a long way. But if you prefer to try home remedies first, here’s what you can do to soothe your aching wrist:
- Wear a wrist splint at night, and even during the day if need be. This will reduce any swelling and can provide your wrist with some support.
- Visit an occupational therapist. He or she can provide you with pain prevention tips and show you how to use your wrist in ways that won’t induce pain and swelling.
- Experiment with various types of mousepads, keyboards and wrist guards to see which is most comfortable for you.
- Let your wrists rest often and make sure you rest your hands on their sides, not on the wrists.
- Visit a physical therapist to learn how to do the proper strength training and flexibility exercises. Practice those exercises daily, particularly after a hot shower when the joints have loosened up.
- Take frequent breaks from movement so your wrist can rest.
- Wear a wrist splint for a few days in a row to keep it in place.
- Put ice or cold packs over the area to reduce any swelling.
- Keep the wrist elevated and keep it rested so it can heal.
- If the pain is too bad, take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen to take the edge off.
How To Prevent Wrist Pain
In order to do anything, you must use your hands. But if your wrists are in pain, it can be a struggle to get your work done. So if you want to avoid wrist pain, follow these tips:
- Adjust your computer keyboard so you don’t have to bend your wrist to type.
- If your job requires you to be on the computer all day or if you often do a task that requires repetitive wrist movements, be sure to take breaks frequently.
- Wear a foam or gel wrist band while typing to provide comfort and support to your wrist.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Wear wrist guards while playing sports.
- Make sure you get the proper amount of calcium daily – about 1,000 milligrams for the average adult.
By making small lifestyle adjustments such as these, you’ll be protecting your wrists from future pain and injury.