Read below about wrist injury, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your wrist injury 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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Wrist Injury Symptoms

Wrist injury is often associated with traumatic events such as falls or sporting accidents that cause sprains or fractures. However, wrist injury symptoms can also stem from chronic issues such as repetitive stress and the normal aging process. The wrists are used so frequently and often that sometimes it is difficult to differentiate aches and pains from wrist injury that requires prompt medical attention.

Symptoms of wrist pain associated with wear and tear include:

  • Stiffness
  • Restriction in movement
  • Transient numbness

Symptoms of wrist pain that result from injury include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Persistent numbness
  • Weakness or decreased strength
  • Pain in the fingers or hand

It is important to be able to identify and differentiate these symptoms of wrist pain in order to prevent future damage and get appropriate treatment.

Wrist Injury Causes Overview

Many factors can lead to wrist injury. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is essential for proper treatment and care. The wrist is a joint with multiple components. Made up of bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons [1], the wrist is susceptible to injury 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 and injury.

Traumatic causes:

Direct trauma to the wrist in events such as motor vehicle accidents can cause significant trauma to the wrist, but traumatic causes are varied and do not simply include car accidents.

  • 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, muscles and ligaments can be torn.
  • Sports injuries: Similar to falls, a wrist injury is a common occurrence in contact sports, such as football and hockey, and in sports that may involve falls, such as skiing, volleyball or cross-country 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 [2]. These activities may seem benign but when performed often they can lead to serious wrist injury.

Inflammation:

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

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a 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 [3].

  • Cysts: Cysts are sacs that can be filled with fluid, air or other material that can form in any part of the body. Cysts often occur in the wrist and cause pain that can lead to injury from constant inflammation [4].

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Wrist Injury

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced wrist injury. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.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

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    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
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.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.

    Rarity:
    Common
    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
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Wrist Injury Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having wrist injury.

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  3. 3.Contusion of the Wrist

    A bruise is the damage of the blood vessels that return blood to the heart (the capillaries and veins), which causes pooling of the blood. This explains the blue/purple color of most bruises. Bruises of the wrist are common, often due to minor injuries.

    Bruises tend to begin healing within one week.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    wrist injury, pain in one wrist, wrist pain from an injury, swelling of one wrist, wrist bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with contusion of the wrist:
    wrist injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Repetitive Strain Injury of the Upper Arm

    Repetitive strain injury of the upper arm is caused by consistent repetitive use.

    Resolves with rest

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    upper arm pain from overuse, upper arm weakness, upper arm numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with repetitive strain injury of the upper arm:
    upper arm pain from overuse
    Symptoms that never occur with repetitive strain injury of the upper arm:
    upper arm injury, severe upper arm pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

    De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. If you have de Quervain's tenosynovitis, you will feel pain upon turning your wrist, grasping anything, or making a fist.

    4-6 weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    hand numbness, thumb pain, hand weakness, weakness in one hand, numbness in one hand
    Symptoms that always occur with de quervain's tenosynovitis:
    thumb pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Wrist Injury Treatments and Relief

If your 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 tension on your wrist [5].
  • 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. Try changes such as replacement of slippery rugs and mats, installation of handrails in the bathroom or shower, and illumination of spaces in order to prevent accidental trips.
  • Apply ice then heat: Putting ice on your wrist will help reduce pain and relax sore or tight muscles. Limit application of ice or heat to 20 minutes at a time. You can do this every couple of hours for relief.
  • Build up your bones: Take calcium supplements to strengthen your bones and prevent fractures.

See your doctor promptly if you have symptoms more aligned with those of wrist injury (bruising, shooting pain, numbness 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 wrist.
  • Non-inflammatory medications: Your doctor may prescribe this type of medication to combat arthritic processes that are causing wrist pain and injury [6].
  • Surgery: If at home remedies and medication options from your doctor do not provide relief, you and your doctor may look into surgical options [7].

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Wrist Injury

  • Q.Did you just suffer from a high impact injury (e.g., a fall, collision, accident or sports trauma)?
  • Q.Press on the thumb along the hand. Does this hurt?
  • Q.How would you describe your wrist injury?
  • Q.Do you have difficulty moving your thumb?

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

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Wrist Injury Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced wrist injury have also experienced:

    • 13% Wrist Pain
    • 10% Wrist Stiffness
    • 6% Hand Tingling
  • People who have experienced wrist injury were most often matched with:

    • 44% Wrist Sprain
    • 44% Buckle Fracture of Distal Radius
    • 11% Contusion of the Wrist
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

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References

  1. Hand and Wrist Anatomy. Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation Link.
  2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Published January 2017. NINDS Link.
  3. What is Arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation Link.
  4. Charles DJ, Stuart JF. Ganglion Cyst of the Wrist and Hand. American Academy. Published March 7, 2018. OrthoInfo Link
  5. Ergonomics: The Study of Work. U.S. Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Published 2000. OSHA Link.
  6. Medications to Treat Hands and Wrists. Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation Link.
  7. Hand and Wrist Surgery. Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation Link.