Why can wrist pain occur?

The wrist joint is the one that connects the forearm with the hand and makes it possible to carry out activities such as writing. Pain here is a frequent symptom that can prevent you from performing everyday tasks, but why does wrist pain occur?

First of all, it is important to know that the wrist is not just a large joint, it is made up of multiple small bones that connect to each other. It also has ligaments and is crossed by tendons, nerves, and blood vessels.

Studies show that wrist pain can affect all age groups. In addition, the symptom will have a bone, joint, neurological or vascular origin depending on the affected component.

Possible causes of wrist pain

Any of the structures that make up or cross the joint can be affected by a pathology and cause pain. Thus, there are a large number of etiological origins for this symptom.

Wrist injuries

The wrist joint has a very limited range of motion, reaching a few degrees. However, it is prone to sudden stretches, which can injure its components and cause pain.

Wrist injuries can also be caused by direct trauma to the area.. Among the most frequent are the following:

  • Fracture.
  • Sprain.
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis.
  • Dislocation

Fractures, sprains, and trauma strains are causes of wrist pain.

Read also: 6 remedies to relieve pain in the wrists

Carpal tunnel syndrome

One of the most common causes of wrist pain is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a neurological condition caused by compression of the median nerve.

This nerve crosses the wrist in a narrow space called Carpal tunnel and is in charge of providing sensitive innervation to the thumb, index, middle and external side of the ring finger. Compression of this structure is often referred to as a tingling or numbness in the fingers and palm of the hand.

Arthritis and osteoarthritis

Rheumatic diseases are capable of affecting any joint in the body, including the wrist. Arthritis and osteoarthritis are one of the most common joint pathologies and affect older people, although arthritis can also affect children.

Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the joint components, while arthritis is the inflammation of the same. Both processes are capable of causing wrist pain when the joint is affected, along with a limitation in the movement of the same.


Gout is a particular type of arthritis caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. It appears when there are high levels of the compound in the blood, which causes inflammation.

Gouty arthritis generates great pain in the affected area and is capable of appearing in any joint of the body. The disease can raise the temperature and make the whole area red, making the sufferer very uncomfortable.

Other probable causes of wrist pain

The pathologies mentioned are the most frequent causes of wrist pain, however, they are not the only ones. There are a host of different conditions that can trigger pain., from local processes to systemic diseases. In this sense, other etiological origins can also be the following:

Which are the risk factors?

Everyone is prone to wrist pain, since the causes are very varied and are not limited to a specific population group. However, this health problem is more common in older, sedentary and overweight people.

Those who do activities that involve repetitive movements of the wrist joint may also have the symptom. This type of pain has been associated with multiple activities, such as writing, knitting, cutting hair, or painting.

High-performance athletes are more prone to injury and health problems. Some sports put a lot of stress on the wrist joint, which can trigger pain. Injuries to the joint in question are common in sports such as golf, football, bowling, and gymnastics.

You may be interested in: Tips to reduce sedentary lifestyle

Symptoms that accompany wrist pain

Joint pain is highly variable and its characteristics will be different, depending on the cause. It can be described in multiple ways, from a stitch to a tingling.

It is important to take into account all the symptoms that may occur along with the pain, because it is not specific to a particular pathology. In this sense, some of the signs that accompany this health problem are the following:

  • Swelling in the fingers.
  • Redness and increased temperature of the area.
  • Difficulty grasping objects with weakness in the affected hand.
  • Noises when moving the wrist or fingers.

When to go to the doctor?

In most cases, wrist pain is not the result of a serious condition and usually goes away on its own after a few days. However, it should be considered a medical emergency on certain occasions and specialized care should be sought.

First of all, it is important to see a doctor in case of an obvious deformation of the wrist or fingers of the hand. This may be indicative of a bone fracture and the affected limb should be immobilized.

On the other hand also seek specialized care if body temperature rises abruptly or if the redness and swelling do not improve. These symptoms are characteristic of a condition called septic arthritis, which can endanger the patient's life.

Differential diagnosis

All diseases that can cause wrist pain present with similar symptomsTherefore, doctors must study the symptoms presented very well to establish an accurate diagnosis. Some of the most important characteristics of pain are the duration, the form of presentation, the character and the intensity of the pain.

Doctors can also use techniques used in the physical examination to verify the suspected diagnosis. One of the examples of the findings that can be obtained is Tinel's sign, which confirms the existence of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment of wrist pain

The therapy to be followed in the case of this condition is very varied, since it will depend on the cause of the problem. Immobilization of the joint is usually sufficient in the case of injuries. Also, avoid using the affected hand to control the onset of pain.

On the other hand, taking painkillers reduces the impact of the symptom on people's lives, always under professional prescription. In cases where there is an inflammatory process, oral consumption or the injection of corticosteroids may be indicated.

Wrist pain may warrant surgery in the most severe cases, such as septic arthritis or a fracture. Physical therapy is even indicated once the injury heals in its entirety in order to regain joint movement.

Physical rehabilitation is important for wrist pain, once the relevant medical treatment has been completed.


The best way to prevent the onset of wrist pain is avoid subjecting the joint to high pressure for a long time. When playing sports, it is important to be very careful with your hands and avoid receiving a blow to them.

It is also recommended to exercise the joint constantly to strengthen the components of the joint. In case of pain, some hot or cold water compresses help reduce the intensity of the symptom and reduce inflammation.

Interspersed use of hot and cold therapies throughout the day is beneficial For many people, however, it is important to consult a doctor to avoid worsening the underlying pathology.

Wrist pain is a symptom with multiple causes

The number of diseases that can cause pain in the wrist joint is very highHowever, we try to cover the most common ones. All the symptoms presented by the patients are similar, so it is important to study their characteristics to establish a differential diagnosis.

Fortunately, there are a host of treatments available to reduce the impact and keep it from interfering with life. In any case, the ideal is to prevent the appearance by reducing the risk factors and strengthening the joint components.