Wrist pain can be caused by disease or injury affecting any aspect of the wrist joint, including the bones, ligaments, and connective tissue surrounding the area. Joint pain is medically known as arthralgia. Pain is a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis) that may occur in the wrist. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis to occur in the wrist. Repetitive-motion injuries can cause pain in the wrist and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an impingement on the median nerve in the area of the wrist that can cause numbness, tingling, and eventually pain or cramping in the hand. Trauma or injuries such as strains and sprains can also cause wrist pain. De Quervain's disease is an inflammation of the tendons that begins in the thumb and extends to the wrist; this condition is another potential cause of wrist pain. Tumors of the bones or other structures in the hand are a very rare cause of wrist pain.
Other causes of wrist painNext Article
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Who is more affected by carpal tunnel syndrome: Men or women? Take the Carpal Tunnel Quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, and...
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Visual Guide
Could the pain in your hand be carpal tunnel syndrome? Watch this slideshow to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment...
Pain Management: Surprising Causes of Pain
What’s causing your pain? Learn the common causes of lower back pain, as well as pain in the knee, stomach, kidney, shoulder,...
Pain Quiz: Test Your IQ of Pain
Is pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we...
Pain-Relief Tips for Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, and Strains in Pictures
View this First Aid slideshow on Care and Pain Relief. See how to get pain relief if you've bumped your head, sprained your...
Picture of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A type of compression neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by compression and irritation of the median nerve in the wrist. See a...
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Exercises Slideshow: Joint-Friendly Fitness Routines
Regular exercise boosts fitness and helps reverse joint stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our experts offer...
Causes of Wrist Pain
Arthritis (Joint Inflammation)
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and pseudogout.
A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as: compressed, open, stress, greenstick, spiral, vertebral compression, compound, and comminuted. Symptoms of a broken bone include pain at the site of injury, swelling, and bruising around the area of injury. Treatment of a fracture depends on the type and location of the injury.
Burns (First Aid)
Burn types are based on their severity: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. First-degree burns are similar to a painful sunburn. The damage is more severe with second-degree burns, leading to blistering and more intense pain. The skin turns white and loses sensation with third-degree burns. Burn treatment depends upon the burn location, total burn area, and intensity of the burn.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which irritation of the wrist's median nerve causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers. Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and the nature of any disease that might be causing the symptoms.
Cellulitis is an acute spreading bacterial infection below the surface of the skin characterized by redness, warmth, inflammation, and pain. The most common cause of cellulitis is the bacteria staph (Staphylococcus aureus).
DeQuervain's tenosynovitis is inflammation of the tendon on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. DeQuervain's tenosynovitis can be caused by a simple strain injury to the extensor pollicus longus tendon. Typical causes include stresses such as lifting heavy grocery bags by the loops, and up lifting gardening pots. Treatment for DeQuervain's tenosynovitis includes any combination of rest, ice, antiinflammatory medication, and/or cortisone injections.
A ganglion is a fluid-filled cyst that forms from the joint or tendon lining. Ganglia are most frequently found in the ankles and wrists and are usually painless. A ganglion often resolves on its own. Aspiration of the ganglion fluid or surgery may be necessary.
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
Pseudogout, a form of arthritis, results when deposits of crystals collect in and around the joints. Symptoms of pseudogout include pain, stiffness, warmth, and joint swelling of the knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and/or wrists. Treatment for pseudogout aims to decrease inflammation through the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs of septic arthritis include fever, joint pain, chills, swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Treatment involves antibiotics and the drainage of the infected joint.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Examples of Medications for Wrist Pain
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Ketorolac vs. diclofenac
- Ketorolac vs. ibuprofen (Advil)
- Ketorolac vs. naproxen (Aleve)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Over-the-Counter Products
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter