The wrist is made up of nerves, bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin. Muscles are responsible for wrist movement along with tendons, which anchor muscles to the bones. Nerves control sensation and muscle function, while blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen to all the important structures.
Everyone experiences wrist pain at some point in their life. Wrist pain can be due to injury, infection, tumor, underlying medical condition, or the natural process of aging. In some cases, wrist pain is a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention, such as a wrist fracture or infection.
Wrists can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms such as throbbing, aching, soreness, stiffness, and increased warmth or cold. Wrist pain can be dull, sharp, tingling, burning, continuous, or intermittent. Wrist pain in form of burning or “pins and needles” sensation (paresthesia) is caused by temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Numerous medical conditions can cause wrist pain. Pregnancy is often the culprit behind hand and wrist pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Ganglion cysts and arthritis causes wrist pain and stiffness of the wrist joints, while infection results in wrist pain associated with redness and swelling at the site of infection.
Wrist pain can be caused by overuse such as seen in de Quervain’s tendonitis. Tendon pain is a symptom of tendinosis caused by small tears in the tissue around the tendon or tendonitis, which is the result of inflammation, irritation and tendon swelling. Sometimes, with wrist pain, you may feel decreased strength and range of motion in the affected area.
It is important to keep in mind, that complications associated with wrist pain can be very serious and can result in chronic disability, inability to perform daily tasks, hand deformity, and even spread of infection to the rest of the body causing sepsis. If you are experiencing persistent pain or other symptoms in your wrist, please contact your health care provider.