What does it mean if I have wrist pain?

Wrist pain is a common condition that have various causes. It is important to note that the wrist joint has a vital role during basic movements that include writing and typing on a keyboard. If there is discomfort or pain, it can disrupt daily activities and might even have an impact on the quality of life.

Causes of wrist pain

Even though wrist pain can manifest for various reasons, the usual causes include the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – this develops once the transverse ligament thickens and places pressure on a nerve that results to numbness, pain and weakness in the hand.
  • Wrist tendonitis – this occurs once the wrist tendons develop small tears or become irritated and inflamed.
  • Osteoarthritis – this results to inflammation of the joints and develops once the cartilage covering the bones wears out.
  • Wrist sprain – this is caused by falls and flexing the wrist towards the back once the hand strikes the ground.
  • Ganglion cyst – this is due to the soft tissue cysts that are filled with that manifest on the wrist at the opposite of the palm

What are the indications?

Wrist pain causes

The symptoms of wrist pain tend to vary depending on the exact cause. Some experience pain that is dull or achy while others have sharp pain.

The symptoms of wrist pain tend to vary depending on the exact cause. Some experience pain that is dull or achy while others have sharp pain.

The location of the pain also varies. The pain from carpal tunnel syndrome often manifests on the palm side of the hand. Aside from the pain, other symptoms can also develop.

  • For wrist sprain, other symptoms might include swelling and bruising.
  • For carpal tunnel syndrome, other symptoms include tingling, numbness and weakness of the hand.

Depending on the exact cause, the symptoms can be mild and becomes worse as time passes. Initially, the pain can only occur during certain activities. Over time, as the condition worsens, the pain is also present even at rest.

When to consult a doctor

  • Pain interferes with daily activities
  • Simple hand movements are difficult
  • Tingling or numbness becomes worse and there is minimal or no sensation in the fingers or hand

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on possible causes of wrist pain is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage wrist pain due to injuries to the muscles, ligaments or joints,  register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are location in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.


The treatment for wrist pain usually depends on the exact cause and its severity. Most cases can be effectively treated at home. The home treatment often includes the following:

  • Adequate rest to allow the wrist to heal
  • Pain medications
  • Application of ice
  • A splint is worn to limit movement
  • Exercises for the wrist can also help reduce the pain

If home treatment and exercises could not effectively reduce the pain, further treatment is needed. Cortisone injections might be an option which reduces inflammation and pain.

Surgery is usually the last option and only utilized if the less invasive measures do not work. The type of surgery carried out depends on the cause of the pain.


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