The wrist is one of the most complex joints of our body that connects the hand to the forearm. It contains eight small bones known as carpals, their associated ligaments, surrounding tendons and nerves that support the function of the hand and fingers. Any damage to any of these structures can cause wrist ailments that can affect an individual’s ability to use his wrist and hand.
Causes of Wrist Ailments
Wrist problems can occur due to a variety of reasons including:
- A sudden (acute) injury may occur due to
- fall on an outstretched hand
- a direct blow to the hand or wrist
- abnormal twisting or bending of the wrist
- Repetitive wrist motion like hitting a tennis ball or driving a car for hours on end without a break
- Manual labour and playing sports like cricket, throw ball etc.
- Wear and tear of the joint due to overdoing of an activity or through repetition of an activity
- Forceful twisting or rotating the wrist beyond the normal range of motion
- Excessive strain on the wrist
- Different types of arthritis (inflammation of joints and tissues) like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis etc.
- Other disorders like Carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts, Kienbock's disease etc.
Symptoms of Wrist Ailments
The symptoms of wrist ailments depend upon the disorder and its extent (acute or chronic), But in the majority of the cases, the patient complains of the following problems associated with the wrist joint:
- Pain in the wrist joint with or without movement
- Pricking sensation in the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Inability to move the wrist
- Swelling of the joint
- Stiffness in the joint
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the wrist
- Weakness in the joint that makes it unable to move
- Warmth in the join
- Restricted physical activity
- Loud popping sounds
These are just common symptoms but the patient may have other symptoms too that should not be ignored as wrist joint is one of the most important joints of our body. So anything that is not normal or is causing discomfort should be discussed with the doctor and treated accordingly.
Diagnosis of Wrist Ailments
The diagnosis of wrist ailments starts with a complete medical history of the patient. It is also required to consider family history of joint pains as some of these disorders run in families. This is followed by thorough physical examination of the joint to find any visible signs and assess its level of activity. In addition to these following diagnostic tests are almost always required to conclude the disorder:
- Bone scan
- CAT scan
Treatment of Wrist Ailments
Treatment of wrist problems specifically depends upon the cause and extent of disorder. It is required to first evaluate the damage that has already occurred and simultaneously start the treatment that would prevent further damage. Treatment may include some of the following:
- Medication: Oral or injectable medicines are given to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation e.g. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- Physical therapy: Various types of exercises and activities are advised to the patient so as to improve the joint movement and strength.
- Compression bandage: Wearing compression bandages or casts to immobilize the wrist joint.
- Cortisone (steroid) injections: These are given to reduce pain and swelling.
- Surgery: In cases of severely damaged wrist joint that cannot be managed by any of the conservative ways, surgery can prove to be beneficial for the patient.