What Causes Wrist Pain?
One of the most commonly injured areas on the upper body is the wrist, a complex structure made up of eight tiny bones in a movable joint. The wrist connects to the arm bones (ulna and radius) and also contains ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. In other words, a lot can go wrong with the wrist.
Fortunately, orthopedic specialists and wrist surgeons at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington have the experience, training, on-site surgical facilities, and diagnostic imaging tools to care for all types of wrist conditions.
Some of the most frequent wrist problems seen at Baylor Arlington include:
- Wrist fracture
- Torn ligaments
- Joint infection
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ganglion cysts
- Colles fracture or distal radial fracture
- Broken scaphoid (navicular)
- Sprained wrist
- Arthritis of the wrist
- DeQuervain’s tendinosis
- Kienbock’s disease
Orthopedic Specialists Diagnose Wrist Conditions
The complexity and severity of wrist conditions varies widely. One “everyday” cause of wrist pain is a strained or sprained wrist. Strain indicates injury (from overstretching to tearing) to a muscle or tendon in the wrist. Sprain refers to ligaments in the wrist being stretched or torn after a sudden impact during a fall or while playing sports. Symptoms of a sprain can include swelling, pain, bruising, tearing sensation, and tissue that’s warm to the touch.
Although wrist sprain may not seem serious, the damage inside the structure of the wrist may be anything but mild. Orthopedic specialists at Baylor Arlington rely on comprehensive examination and diagnostic imaging to accurately assess any wrist injury. The initial sprain could turn out to be a torn ligament or a hidden fracture.
If not diagnosed and treated correctly, wrist injury can develop into painful consequences in the future. Injury, strain and wear and tear as we age contribute to osteoarthritis in the wrist.
Another type of soft tissue wrist injury is De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. After overworking the tendons running from the base of the thumb down the inside of the wrist, the sheath that contains the tendons becomes irritated and painful. Sports that may contribute to this wrist condition are tennis, golf, or rowing. Repetitive motion injury can also cause this damage. Symptoms include thumb pain when attempting to grip or turn the wrist. You may also see swelling, stiffness, and numbness in the thumb and index finger.
Wrist problems can also develop when ganglion cysts – fluid-filled lumps – appear on the wrist. These growths can be painful or unsightly or both. Ganglion cysts often appear on top of the wrist (dorsal ganglion), at the pulse
point, at the base of the finger or the tip of the finger (mucous cysts). As the cysts change size over time, they may press against nerves in the wrist joint, causing pain, muscle weakness, or tingling. With rest, most ganglion cysts on the wrist may disappear. But physical exertion or arthritic conditions can aggravate the cysts.
A highly damaging wrist condition called carpal tunnel syndrome also develops around soft tissue, with the additional complication of nerve compression that results in numb hand, pain, tingling fingers, and shooting sensations extending up the arm. Extending inside the narrow carpal tunnel opening of the wrist are several essential parts: the transverse carpal ligament, the median nerve, and flexor tendons. These tissues help move, control, and generate feeling in the thumb and fingers.
This wrist condition may be caused by repetitive motion injury, age, hormonal changes, heredity, and degenerative disease (thyroid, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis). Symptoms of carpal tunnel worsen over time, making simple hand and finger movements difficult.
Bone Disease and Injury Cause Wrist Pain
Aside from these soft tissue wrist conditions, bone disorders cause a high percentage of wrist conditions cal ling for the assistance of an orthopedic wrist specialist.
One of the most frequently broken bones in the arm is the distal radial bone (larger arm bone just behind the wrist). This injury is known as a Colles fracture. The fracture may extend into the wrist joint, involve the other arm bone, break into more than one piece, or involve an open fracture that tears through the skin. Distal radius fracture often occurs during a fall as you reach out an arm to catch yourself, but can also happen in a car crash o r sports injury.
Orthopedic wrist doctors and orthopedic surgeons fully examine wrist fractures to help decide whether wrist treatment should be nonsurgical or surgical. Other bone conditions and injuries of the wrist may include broken scaphoid, osteoarthritis, and restricted blood supply causing osteonecrosis in the lunate bone (Kienbock’s disease).
To get an accurate diagnosis of your wrist condition, it is essential to be examined by a physician with extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system.
Extensive training and expertise in treating the hand and wrist make the orthopedic specialists at Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington uniquely qualified to diagnose your wrist disorder or injury for proper treatment. Call 855-41-ORTHO to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist, wrist surgeon, or sports medicine doctor.