Read below about swollen wrist, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your swollen wrist from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Swollen Wrist Symptoms

Swelling is the result of fluid buildup that gets trapped in your body's tissues. When an area of the body becomes inflamed, injured or damaged the small blood vessels in the body begin to leak fluid. Moreover, the body sends white blood cells to repair the damage, and more fluid follows. As a result, the affected body part enlarges even more.

A swollen wrist is usually the result of wrist injury associated with traumatic events that result in sprains and fractures. However, wrist swelling can also be the result of chronic issues. For example, stress from repetitive activities such as knitting and typing can result in swelling.

Symptoms associated with wrist swelling may include:

Some of these symptoms may occur before the swelling emerges, so it is important to know and be able to identify these signs. As soon as you observe symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor in order to receive appropriate care.

Swollen Wrist Causes Overview

Many factors can lead to wrist swelling. The wrist is a joint with multiple components. Made up of bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons, the wrist is susceptible to injury and subsequent swelling in numerous places. See this image for a visual representation.

Any condition that causes stress, overuse or damage to these components can result in wrist pain, injury and swelling. It is essential to make an appoint with your healthcare provider in order to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Traumatic injuries that cause wrist swelling:

Though traumatic events such as motor vehicle accidents can cause obvious injury to the wrist, many other types of injury can result in significant trauma to the wrist.

  • Falls: Falling on an outstretched hand puts direct trauma on the wrist. Bones can easily shift and break, nerves and blood vessels can be pinched and severed, and muscles and ligaments can be torn. Regardless of the exact mechanism, wrist swelling will occur.
  • Sports injuries: Similar to falls, wrist swelling from injuries is a common occurrence in contact sports, such as football and hockey. Furthermore, wrist injury and swelling can occur in sports that may involve falls such as skiing, volleyball or biking.

Positional causes:

  • Positions such as typing and knitting that put direct pressure on the nerves in the wrist can cause chronic stress and injury. These activities may seem benign but when performed often they can lead to wrist injury that can result in chronic swelling.

Causes of wrist inflammation:

Processes that cause inflammation of the components of the wrist, especially the blood vessels and nerves, can cause compression and pressure that results in inevitable swelling and also injury.

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness of the bones and joints. Arthritic processes can affect many parts of the wrist and cause irritation that often leads to injury. Many people with arthritis have multiple joints that are in a constant state of swelling.

  • Cysts: Cysts are sacs filled with fluid, air or other material that can form in any part of the body. The body recognizes these fluid-filled structures as foreign and the body often mounts a reparative response that results in swelling around the cyst.

2 Potential Swollen Wrist Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Buckle Fracture of Distal Radius

    A buckle fracture of the wrist, also known as a torus fracture, is a condition that are most common in children aged 5-10 years due to the elasticity of their bones. This fracture occurs when force is applied to the radius (one of the two bones of the forearm), causing the bone to split along the growth plate.

    3 weeks in a cast, no need for follow up.

    Top Symptoms:
    constant forearm pain, forearm pain from an injury, pain in one forearm, swollen forearm, wrist injury
    Symptoms that always occur with buckle fracture of distal radius:
    forearm pain from an injury, constant forearm pain
    Primary care doctor

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  2. 2.Wrist Sprain

    A wrist sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the wrist. A mild sprain involves just stretching of the ligaments while more severe sprains can tear the ligaments.

    2 weeks

    Top Symptoms:
    wrist injury, wrist pain, wrist pain from an injury, swollen wrist, pain in the back of the wrist
    Symptoms that always occur with wrist sprain:
    wrist injury
    Primary care doctor

Swollen Wrist Treatments and Relief

If your wrist swelling symptoms are a result of mal-positioning, try these self-care tips and suggestions to gain relief:

  • Practice ergonomics: If you spend much of your day typing at a keyboard or doing activities that put pressure on the wrist, make time for regular breaks. Keep your wrists in a relaxed neutral position when you type and consider using foam supports and keyboards that decrease wrist tension.
  • Use protective gear during sports activities: Using wrist guards during activities such as snowboarding, rollerblading, gymnastics and tennis can help prevent injury.
  • Hazard-proof the home : Make changes in your home that can help prevent falls. Replace slippery rugs and mats, install handrails in the bathroom or shower, and illuminate spaces in order to prevent accidental trips on objects you may not see in the dark.
  • Apply ice then heat: Putting ice on your wrist will help reduce swelling and any pain. Limit application of ice or heat to 20 minutes at a time. You can do this every couple of hours for relief.

See your doctor promptly if your swelling symptoms are more aligned with those related to serious wrist injury. These symptoms include bruising, shooting pain, numbness and/or tingling. ### Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may suggest: ###

  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation: Your doctor may prescribe stretching exercises or a physical therapy/rehabilitation program to help you restore range of motion, strength and stability to your wrist. If you have a broken bone, you may need a cast or splint to help hold the fractured pieces together during the healing process. Even if your wrist injury is due to a sprain, you may need to wear a sprint to protect the parts of the wrist as they heal.
  • Non-inflammatory medications: Your doctor may prescribe this type of medication to combat arthritic processes that are causing swelling.
  • Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medication): Do not be alarmed, your wrist swelling is most likely not the result of seizures. Some anticonvulsant medications are also used to combat nerve pain that can lead to swelling such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or carbamazepine (Tegretol).

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Wrist

  • Q.About your [forearm], do you notice:
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.About your [wrist], do you notice:
  • Q.Did you just suffer from a high impact injury (e.g., a fall, collision, accident or sports trauma)?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our swollen wrist symptom checker to find out more.

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Swollen Wrist Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced swollen wrist have also experienced:

    • 21% Swollen Forearm
    • 13% Swollen Upper Arm
    • 8% Wrist Pain
  • People who have experienced swollen wrist had symptoms persist for:

    • 32% Less Than a Week
    • 27% Less Than a Day
    • 23% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced swollen wrist were most often matched with:

    • 5% Wrist Sprain
    • 1% Buckle Fracture of Distal Radius
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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