Wrist Pain

Wrist injuries are common and, as the wrist joint is essential to almost all daily activities, it is important to address and manage the injury promptly.

The wrist joint is composed of three separate joints and supported by many small muscles, ligaments, and tendons. As such, the wrist is a complex region and a high-quality assessment is recommended to correctly classify the condition. Physiotherapists are well suited to manage wrist pain and this article will provide a brief overview of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment process.

To understand wrist injuries, a basic knowledge of anatomy is beneficial.

The wrist is the location where the long bones of the forearm (the ulna and the radius) meet the small bones (the carpals) at the base of the hand. For reference, the ulna is located on the pinky finger side whereas the radius sits on the thumb side of the hand. At the base of the wrist, the radius and ulna form the radioulnar joint. The radius also forms a joint with the thumb-sided carpal bones. Likewise, the ulna articulates with the pinky finger sided carpal bones. On the ulnar side, a small disc, known as the TFCC, sits in between this joint to stabilize and act as a shock absorber. Lastly, there are many joints in the hand itself that sit quite close to the wrist joint and pain in wrist and hand can often occur together. Because of the proximity, a physiotherapist will almost always assess the wrist and hand together.

In order to diagnose wrist pain, it is often helpful to divide it into two categories, the first category includes traumatic injuries where there is a sudden onset of wrist pain, and a clear mechanism of injury. The second category is called "Overuse injuries".  Let's take a look at these categories in more detail...

Wrist pain from traumatic injury...

Common examples include a fall onto an outstretched hand or sudden onset of pain with a racket swing. It is important, at this point, to rule out a wrist fracture. If the physiotherapist suspects a fracture, they will refer to a physician who can decide if imaging, such as X-ray, is appropriate. If a fracture has occurred, treatment initially is six to eight weeks of immobilization. After this period, physiotherapy will be required to regain mobility and strength in the wrist and hand.

Aside from fractures, a traumatic injury is likely to cause wrist strains and sprains. A strain is a tear to muscle and/or tendon whereas a sprain is a tear to a ligament. Wrist sprains and strains often occur together.

Treatment initially focuses on pain management and rest, followed by a progressive strengthening program to regain stability.

Wrist pain from overuse ...

In this case, pain develops gradually and is often linked to repetitive activities like racket sports or use of hand tools. With this type of injury, it is typically the muscles and tendons around the joint that become irritated. This results in a sore wrist that gets better with rest and worsens with activity. A common diagnosis in this category is wrist tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon) or tenosynovitis (inflammation of the sheath that surrounds a tendon).

Treatment firstly looks to address pain and improve strength and mobility. In addition, treatment includes looking at preventative factors like workstation ergonomics, the use of braces, and altering the grip pattern.

Let's get you back to normal!

Overall, while wrist injuries can be frustrating, a physiotherapist can guide patients through the injury, from diagnosis to return to activity.

For your individualized assessment and treatment of wrist pain, call or visit your nearby Panther Sports Medicine Physiotherapy clinic today!

Locations & Hours

9 Convenient Locations in Calgary. All Physiotherapy clinics have morning and evening appointments available to meet the demands of your busy schedule. Saturday appointments are available at select locations.
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Panther Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centres is a physical therapist owned and operated rehabilitation company. We are a network of nine rehabilitation centres located throughout the city of Calgary that offer a wide range of programs and services to help our patients restore and maximize their physical capabilities.
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COUNTRY HILLS
403-226-5733

11950 Country Village Link NE
Calgary, AB
OAKRIDGE
403-258-2659

10003 - 24th Street SW
Calgary, AB
CRANSTON MARKET
403-455-1888

2010, 356 Cranston Road SE
Calgary, AB
TRICO CENTRE
403-278-5311

11150 Bonaventure Drive SE
Calgary, AB
SETON
403-764-6337

4995 Market Street SE
Calgary, AB
MARLBOROUGH MALL
403-272-4202

425 Marlborough Way NE
Calgary, AB
SOUTH FISH CREEK
403-225-0210

333 Shawville Blvd SE
Calgary, AB
MCKENZIE TOWNE
403-257-6238

75 High Street SE
Calgary, AB
WALDEN
587-356-4327

130, 19606 Walden Blvd SE
Calgary, AB
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