Identifying Wrist Pain

Our wrists are made up by a network of small bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and other muscles, all interconnected to allow for complex and involved movements. If one of these parts is damaged or restricted, it can cause a cascade of effects which lead to short and long-term pain and nerve damage. 

Trying to identify wrist pain can be difficult, to help out, the below outlines three primary conditions which affect the nerves and tendons in the wrist.

Wrist pain due to DeQuervains syndrome

DeQuervains syndrome (also known as DeQuervains tenosynovitis) is a condition that affects the tendons in the wrist at the base of the thumb.

When it occurs, the fibrous sheath that surrounds the tendons that move your thumb becomes inflamed and swollen, causing pain with each movement.

The cause of this issue is not clearly known, but it does occur more commonly in women, especially after pregnancy.

Repetitive actions that strain this tendon (like writing for long periods of time, gardening, knitting) can aggravate the condition, and those with rheumatoid arthritis or injury to the tendon directly can develop it as well.

Treatment options

The pain and limited movement that comes with it can be quite severe, and left untreated it can cause severe and permanent damage. Most cases thankfully can be treated conservatively, and this includes:

  • Resting and icing the tendon, avoiding any movements that include gripping or stretching the thumb.
  • Using anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, as well as soothing gels to relieve inflammation.
  • Splinting or bracing the thumb at the wrist to allow it to heal properly.
  • Physiotherapy can be effective in safely stretching and regaining movement in the thumb.

Wrist pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common and well-known issues that affects the wrist itself, and anyone who’s had it can attest to the pain and discomfort it causes.

This syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel, which houses the median nerve, becomes inflamed, impinged or restricted. This leads to pain, numbness and weakness in the wrist, hand and in some cases all the way up to the shoulder. 

Carpal tunnel is most often caused by overuse or excessive strain of the wrist, usually due to repetitive movements like typing all day, picking up and moving small heavy objects constantly etc. However, other factors like arthritis, wrist fractures, pregnancy and even genetic pre-disposition can cause it to occur.

Treatment options

Thankfully carpal tunnel syndrome is relatively easy to treat, and if you take care of it in the early stages, it can go away without complication. Some simple treatments include

  • Physiotherapy, stretching and targeted exercise the strengthen the surrounding muscles and take the pressure off, and allow for comfortable safe movement.
  • Rest and recovery of the wrist and hand, avoiding any activity with it while it heals.
  • Splints and braces can provide a huge amount of pain relief, and speed up the healing process, but partially or fully immobilising and unloading the wrist joint.

Bauerfiend wrist brace to treat wrist pain

Featured above: ManuTrain wrist support

Pain due to ulnar tunnel syndrome

The ulnar nerve sits along the outside of the hand and wrist, running from the pinkie finger all the way up to the shoulder.

When there’s damage or pressure to this nerve and it’s housing, it can cause numbness, weakness and pain to the outside of the hand, making gripping movements very difficult.

Much like carpal tunnel syndrome, this occurs when there’s direct injury, inflammation or swelling in the surrounding tendons and muscles, or repetitive strain from things like power tools, bike riding or manual labour.

Treatment options

Treating it is thankfully quite simple, and normally involves resting the joint and avoiding any activity that strains the affected hand.

In many cases using a brace or splint can help to alleviate the symptoms and accelerate the recovery process.

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Bauerfeind products are developed at our innovation and manufacturing facility in Zeulenroda, Germany. Based on years of scientific research, our award-winning braces and support garments are highly recommended by medical professionals and athletes worldwide.

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*Originally featured on Bauerfeind Australia:
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