Symptoms and Signs of Wrist Pain

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/21/2022

Doctor's Notes on Wrist Pain

Wrist pain signs and symptoms include

  • swelling, warmth, or heat in the wrist,
  • pain (with or without movement),
  • limited ability to move the joint (reduced range of motion), and
  • wrist deformity.

There are several causes for wrist pain. Significant trauma (blunt or penetrating) can crush or fracture bone, tear tendons, and/or deform the wrist, resulting in severe pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common painful injury that develops from repetitive motion. Any disease that may cause joint inflammation (arthritis) may cause wrist pain. Other causes of wrist pain may be bacterial infections, bone and/or soft tissue tumors, and Kienbock's disease (loss of blood to the lunate wrist bone).

What Are the Treatments for Wrist Pain?

The key to the treatments for wrist pain is an accurate diagnosis of the underlying problem. Basic wrist pain treatments are as follows:

  • Medications: over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription type
  • Therapy: cast for fractures, splints for ligament/tendon injuries
  • Surgery: various types
    • Connect bones with metal hardware
    • Carpal tunnel ligament cut to relieve pressure
    • Repair of tendons or ligaments that have ruptured

The use of antibiotics to treat wrist infections and the treatment of arthritic wrist pain and cancer-caused pain are subjects included in other treatment topics.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.