Wrist Pain

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

Wrist pain is defined as any pain experienced around the wrist joint and can involve the bones, ligaments, and tendons in that region. The wrist joint comprises two sets of four bones each, one towards the hand, the other towards the arm. These sets of bones are connected with each other at the wrist through ligaments and tendons. All these bones and connecting soft tissues help control the wide range of motion of our hands, fingers, and thumb. If any part of this network gets inflamed, torn, fractured, or damaged, it will cause pain in the wrist. Some wrist pains are mild while others may be debilitating and significantly affect your normal activities. In such scenarios, visiting a doctor and getting the appropriate treatment for your wrist pain can help get you back to your normal activities.

Causes Of Wrist Pain

There could be different conditions that can result in wrist pain. These conditions include:

Traumatic Wrist Pain

Traumatic wrist pain is caused by an acute injury to any of the bones, ligaments, and connective tissues in the wrist. Falling on one’s outstretched hand is the most common cause of fractures and injuries to the ligaments that result in wrist pain. The pain may be accompanied by loss of function of the hand, especially while grasping and pushing.

Repetitive Strain Injuries of the Wrist

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are usually caused due to tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons that connect the wrist joint with the fingers and thumb and control their movement). These injuries are caused by repeated bending and twisting actions of hands and wrist. During these repetitive movements, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves may get damaged resulting in wrist pain. A common RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degeneration of bones, muscles, and connective tissues of the wrist due to wear and tear because of old age. It can also be caused after a traumatic injury of the wrist that could cause early degeneration and consequently, post-traumatic arthritis. Arthritis can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of movement or function in the hand or fingers.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s defense system starts attacking its own tissues resulting in inflammation and damage. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur to a person of any age and is not associated with any trauma or old age.

Signs and Symptoms of Wrist Pain

Wrist injuries can cause a number of different symptoms depending on the exact injury. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the wrist.
  • Tingling sensation and numbness in the hand.
  • Weakness in the hand and fingers.
  • Reduced range of motion of the hand.
  • Stiffness of the hand and fingers.
  • Trouble grasping objects and holding on to them.
  • A clicking sound while moving the wrist.
  • Pain while doing certain activities and in worse cases, pain even at rest.
  • Instability of the wrist.

Types of Wrist Injuries That Cause Pain

To help you decide why your wrist hurts, let’s look at a few of the most common issues. These problems include (but are not limited to) the following.

anatomical diagram of hand and wrist

Anatomical Diagram of Hand and Wrist- Image Credit: Orthopedics Today

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Wrist tendonitis
  • Wrist bursitis
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
  • Wrist sprain
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Simple Lacerations
  • Triangular fibrocartilage complex injury (TFCC)
  • Cartilage injury
  • Repetitive motion syndrome
  • Trigger digits
  • Paronychia

Note: The only way to know what is causing wrist pain is to see a healthcare professional within 48 hours and have your unique case assessed.

What is A Ganglion Cyst?

They are small fluid-filled sacs that appear on the wrist or fingers. Ganglion cysts usually develop due to joint or tendon irritation. If they become painful, treatment options can include:

Reducing the load on your wrist joint

Consume anti-inflammation medication

Wear a wrist splint

Do not attempt to remove a Ganglion cyst by yourself as it can lead to an infection, injury or recurrence. It is best to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect to have a Ganglion cyst.

Find Wrist Injury Treatment in Singapore

We take for granted just how much we use our wrists every hour of every day. As soon as pain comes on, you’ll become all too aware of just how much you use this essential part of your body. To prevent the problems from getting worse though, you don’t want to delay treatment for too long. Fortunately, there are world-class wrist injury treatment specialists in Singapore as well as a variety of home treatments that will help get you on the road to recovery.

Ready to get rid of pain in your wrists and feel like yourself again? We are here to help! The experts at Ray of Health will create a treatment plan for wrist injury that will make you feel better in no time. We also offer treatment for sports injuries like rotator cuff injury and meniscus tears treatment.

Why live in pain another day? Chat with us online, call +65 6235 8781, or message WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572. You can also talk to us by clicking the button below.

Locations

Camden Medical

1 Orchard Boulevard, #09-06

Singapore 248649

Mount Alvernia Hospital

820 Thomson Road

Medical Centre D #05-60

Singapore 574623

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How Is Wrist Pain Diagnosed?

If you have wrist pain, visit your healthcare clinic where a specialized doctor will carry out an initial physical exam. During the exam, the doctor will move around your wrist to check for any limited range of motion. He may also check for any swelling or tenderness in the wrist. Lastly, the doctor may assess the strength of your wrist and forearm.

Apart from the physical exam, the doctor may order some other tests that include:

Imaging Tests

The most common imaging test for diagnosing wrist pain is x-ray. X-rays can be used to detect osteoarthritis or fractures in bones. For a more detailed picture, MRI or CT scan may be used to diagnose the cause of wrist pain.

Electrical Impulses Test

If the doctor suspects some nerve involvement, such as a median nerve problem in the wrist injury, he may order an electromyogram or EMG. In this test, a small electrode is inserted into the muscle and electrical impulses and signals are calculated when the muscle is at rest and when it is activated. This helps identify any nerve compression due to carpal tunnel syndrome or spinal problems.

Surgical Tests

If the imaging tests are inconclusive, the doctor may carry out a minimally invasive surgical procedure called arthroscopy to view the wrist injury and identify its causes. During arthroscopy, a small camera is inserted through a tiny incision in the wrist. This camera allows the doctor to have a clear picture of the inside of the wrist and reach a diagnosis for the problem.

Wrist Pain Treatment in Singapore

Depending on each patient’s individual symptoms and causes of wrist pain, the specialized doctor in Singapore may advise non-surgical or surgical treatments for the pain.

Non-Surgical Wrist Pain Treatment

Non-surgical wrist pain treatment in Singapore comprises physical therapy, home remedies, and medication. Just like most injuries, your doctor will advise you to avoid doing wrist-specific activities and give the wrist rest for a few days to allow the injury to start healing. Applying ice on the pain point for 15-20 minutes several times a day can also help with the pain and inflammation.

To help manage pain, your doctor may prescribe you over-the-counter pain medicines like Tylenol and Ibuprofen or stronger prescription drugs if the pain is excessive. Along with rest and medication, the doctor may advise physical therapy in almost all cases. The targeted exercises and stretches can help relieve tension in the muscles and tendons to allow them to heal more effectively. Moreover, your doctor may advise you to wear a splint to protect the injured tendon or ligament in the wrist. A splint is quite helpful in repetitive strain injuries of the wrist.

Surgical Wrist Pain Treatment

For some cases of wrist injury, surgical treatment is the only option. A specialist doctor or orthopedic surgeon in Singapore will carry out surgery for the specific injury. In case of bone fractures, the doctor will connect the bone fragments together and stabilize the bones through metal rods to allow them to heal over the next few weeks and months. After surgery, physiotherapy may be required to further strengthen the muscles and regain the normal range of motion.

Surgery for wrist pain in Singapore may also be carried out for some cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and tendon and ligament repair and reconstruction. In case of carpal tunnel syndrome, the surgeon may cut the ligament on the roof of the tunnel to relieve pressure on the nerve, which in turn will reduce the pain, stiffness, and numbness.

In cases where a tendon or ligament in the wrist is torn, the doctor will carry out an arthroscopic surgery to repair them or reconstruct them. Physiotherapy will be carried out a few weeks after surgery to further strengthen the wrist.

Who is more at risk of getting wrist injuries?

Typically those activities that cause you to make repetitive movements with your wrist will put you more at risk to suffer from wrist injuries. Sportsmen and people who use their wrists in repetitive movements are more at risk to get wrist injuries. People who play tennis, golf, table tennis, hockey, and boxing are also more prone. Lifting heavy weights or doing heavy workouts where the wrist experiences repetitive strain also puts you more at risk, for example, while doing push-ups.

Similarly, some people are naturally more loose-jointed and their wrists can get injured relatively easier. New mothers who hold their babies for long and cradle and swing them may also get the carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive usage and stress.

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Frequently-Asked Questions About Wrist Injuries in Singapore

Wrist sprain symptoms are different depending on the extent of the injury. For mild wrist sprains where the ligaments are strained or torn mildly, you will feel pain while moving the wrist joint. For more severe sprains, you may feel pain even at rest. Depending on the severity, wrist sprains are categorized into three grades:

  • Grade 1: A grade 1 wrist sprain occurs when the ligaments are only stretched with no tears. The person will feel pain while moving the joint with minimum inflammation or bruising around the wrist.
  • Grade 2: This is a moderate form of wrist sprain where the ligament and tendons might be partially torn. This type of wrist sprain may cause pain, swelling, and bruising while affecting the wrist stability.
  • Grade 3: Grade 3 wrist sprain happens when the ligament or tendon is completely ruptured resulting in severe pain, tenderness, and bruising. The wrist hurts even while at rest and it severely affects the range of motion of the wrist. The affected wrist also becomes unstable.

If you're experiencing this in your ankle, it could be a sign of ankle sprain as well. Also, there is a possibility of it being pain in the heels, which we recommend to seek heel pain treatment as soon as possible. 

About the Author

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Dr James Tan C H

Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon in Singapore who has more than 10 years of experience in sports injury surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering with the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.