Wrist pain and limited mobility can be very disruptive to your everyday life. If you fracture your wrist bone or suffer from one of many soft tissue conditions affecting the cartilage, ligaments (connecting bone to bone), or tendons (connecting muscle to bone), you should ice the area and seek diagnosis from a hand specialist. Early treatment can prevent exacerbation of symptoms and promote quicker healing.


Pain, weakness, swelling, limited range of motion, or a popping sensation and sound with movement are all typical of wrist injuries. A broken bone in the wrist is typically accompanied by more severe pain that persists even when the wrist is still.

It is relatively easy for the delicate bones and tissues of the wrist to fall prey to traumatic injury or systemic attack. Sometimes the two are interrelated, such as with arthritis. An injury may trigger an arthritic condition that then worsens without further external cause.

The most common causes of wrist pain and dysfunction include the following:

Arthritis of the wrist
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Ganglion cysts
De Quervain's tendonitis
Wrist fractures
Wrist sprains
Torn wrist ligaments/triangular fibrocartilage complex

Maintaining overall upper body strength and performing exercises that gradually strengthen the forearms help in preventing wrist strain that can lead to chronic problems. Good ergonomics at the keyboard and in manual jobs at work or home are important, especially as we age. Rest between periods of repetitive movements and avoid putting pressure on your hands at an angle, where the joint is not as well supported.

If injured, apply cold packs to reduce swelling and pain, and if a fracture is suspected, use a makeshift splint until a brace can be fabricated to immobilize your wrist for healing.

Sometimes surgery is needed to

  • Release a ligament or other tissue causing nerve pain
  • Free up blood flow
  • Remove bone or cartilage fragments
  • Secure fractured bones with pins, screws, and plates
  • Restructure or replace joints