Various factors can contribute to wrist pain. From texting to writing, wrist movements are integral to basic movements. An individual’s quality of life can suffer when pain interferes with their day-to-day lives. There are several joints in the wrist. The fingers and forearm are joined at several places by small joints. Pain in the wrist can develop as a result of an injury or an impact. When a ligament is stretched too far, it can cause pain in a wrist sprain. Usually, wrist pain is a sudden occurrence after an injury. Due to the wide variety of causes of wrist pain, a proper diagnosis is vital for treatment and healing.  In this article, we’ll examine the most common causes, symptoms, and treatments of wrist pain.

What causes wrist pain?

Whether caused by simple fatigue or involving underlying issues, pain can occur for many reasons. The most common cause is wrist injuries. In addition, squeezing the nerves in the wrist can cause pain.

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Injuries
  • Sudden impacts. People often injure their wrists when they fall onto their outstretched hands. Strains, fractures, and sprains can result from this type of issue. Scaphoid fractures affect the wrist bone on the thumb side. X-rays may not reveal this type of fracture right away.
  • Repetitive stress. Performing repetitive wrist motions for hours on end without a break can cause inflammation around joints and stress fractures, including hitting a tennis ball or playing the cello. Repetitive stress injuries such as De Quervain’s disease lead to pain at the base of the thumb.


Osteoarthritis. During the aging process, the cartilage that cushions your bones is gradually damaged. People who have previously injured a wrist are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis in that joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, and rheumatoid arthritis generally affects the wrist. Usually, both wrists are affected if one is affected.

Symptoms of wrist pain

Different causes of wrist pain cause different symptoms. Pain can be dull or achy for some; sharp pain may be experienced by others. There can also be variations in the location of the pain. Other symptoms may also develop along with pain. As well as swelling and bruising, an injury can result in a wrist sprain. A person suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome might experience numbness, tingling, and weakness in their hands as well.

You might develop these symptoms:

  • Hand or wrist stiffness.
  • It might be difficult or uncomfortable to grasp or hold onto objects.
  • The wrist makes a clicking sound when it is moved. This can be more pronounced after extended periods of rest.

There may be mild symptoms at first and they may become worse as time passes.

Prevention and treatment of wrist pain

Depending on the cause of the pain and its severity, wrist pain will require different treatment options. It is first recommended to use the least invasive form of treatment. These include:

  • Treatment at home can often be as simple as resting the wrist as much as possible to allow it to heal. To reduce inflammation and pain, pain medication and ice may also be recommended.
  • Wearing a wrist splint may help in some cases. Some wrist movements can cause irritation which can be prevented by splinting. You can also buy wrist splints online if you are interested in reducing nerve compression. Acupuncture for hand pain can also help out.
  • Exercise – if the pain is from arthritis, wrist exercises could prove useful. Stretching and lengthening muscles and tendons can be achieved through certain exercises. Physical therapists and doctors should be consulted when it comes to which exercises to do.
  • Another treatment option – cortisone injections, which reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgical intervention – used only when other treatments have not succeeded. Based on the source of the pain, the type of surgery performed will differ. In order to relieve the pressure on the nerve, a ligament in the wrist needs to be cut.


After a fall, you may experience wrist pain, but X-rays might indicate you’ve fractured, sprained, or torn a ligament. Unknown aches and pains may also occur. Symptoms such as these can come and go during the day, or even persist all day. Finding the cause of chronic wrist pain is crucial when dealing with it. Your healthcare provider should perform an examination and imaging studies.


There are many causes and treatments for wrist pain. In some instances, splints or casts may be required when a fracture occurs. When a fracture is unstable, surgery may be required. When you wear extended support, such as a cast, brace, or splint, you can alleviate the pain that’s caused by sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome, or arthritis. The surgical intervention provides internal support.

How can I treat wrist pain at home?

It may be necessary to limit or stop activities that aggravate wrist pain. Aside from these, there are other options available to you at home:

  • Cold compress for acute injuries.
  • In chronic conditions, warm compresses can be helpful.
  • Exercising your hands under the supervision of an occupational therapist or a physical therapist.
  • Topical anti-inflammatory medications are applied to the skin (pain relief creams) and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Oral and injectable corticosteroids are another option.

How can I prevent wrist pain?

Several repetitive movements can lead to wrist pain. Typing is a common activity for most of us. If your wrists and surrounding tendons are irritated, you can adjust your desk setup. Prevent wrist pain by following these guidelines:

  • The keyboard should be lower so that your wrists will not bend upwards while typing.
  • Take a break from typing from time to time to let your hands rest.
  • Your mouse, keyboard, and trackpad should be used with a wrist rest.
  • A mouse can also be operated with your non-dominant hand.

If I need to see my doctor, when should I do it?

Please contact your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms:

  • Numbness, tingling, or aching in your fingertips.
  • Inflammatory pain despite home treatments lasting two weeks.
  • An arm tingles in a painful way.
  • Red or swollen hands or wrists often accompany the condition.

Final words

People often experience pain in the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and arthritis are more likely to cause wrist pain than fractures or sprains. A healthcare provider can guide you in determining the best treatment for wrist pain. With a splint or by moderating activities or performing hand exercises, it is often possible to ease your symptoms without surgery. Having wrist pain surgically treated might be beneficial if it prevents you from doing your job, sleeping, or performing basic daily tasks.