We’ve already covered carpal tunnel syndrome, but not everyone’s wrist pain is a result of that one condition.
The wrist is one of the most complicated joints in the body and It’s made up of 8 small bones, called the carpal bones. These bones bridge the gap between the bones at the end of your forearm and the bones in your hand. They’re lined up in 2 rows, and their movement is controlled by over 30 ligaments 1.
The wrist can undertake a high number of movements because it contains so many small bones, but if these bones aren’t moving well, it can lead to problems. Pain can be experienced anywhere in the wrist, but is more common in certain areas. For example, many people who repeatedly extend their wrist in work report pain at the back of the wrist 2.
There are lots of different things that can be the cause of wrist pain, including:
- Repetitive movements of the wrist
- A lack of good quality movement of the carpal bones
- Injury to the ligaments of the wrist
Pain in the wrist doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem in the wrist itself. Sometimes, the problem can be coming from another area of the body.
Although there are many different causes of wrist pain, one carpal bone in particular is more often than not the guilty party; the lunate bone. This bone is central to most wrist movements and is thought to be responsible for up to 10% of all wrist injuries3. Its important role in wrist movements leaves it more vulnerable than the other bones for subluxation or dislocation. Damage to this part of the wrist is particularly common amongst gymnasts and weightlifters 2.
What can be done about wrist pain?
A lot can be done to help alleviate wrist pain, and prevention is always better than cure. This is because wrist osteoarthritis is associated with previous injury to the ligaments of the wrist, which then affects the carpal bones 1. By treating your wrists well earlier in life, they’ll be much happier in the long term.
Injured ligaments mean that the first row of carpal bones don’t move properly, which in turn causes wear and tear in the joint. Even once osteoarthritis has established itself in the wrist joint, it can still be relieved through gentle mobilisation and stretching carried out by your friendly local osteopath (hello!).
A lot can be done to help support the wrist in day-to-day life too, and if you spend a lot of time carrying heavy loads or putting a lot of stress through your wrist, it may be well worth investing in a good wrist support.
Pain and injury to the wrist can be both subtle and complex, as there can be several things going on at once. Because of this, working out what’s behind the problem requires a detailed examination and case history. At Swansea Body Kinetics, we find that a lot of people coming in with wrist pain have jobs that involve a lot of repetitive wrist movement, such as answering the phone or typing. We examine and test the wrist as well as joints and muscles further afield to work out where the pain is coming from, and then we can can treat the problematic muscles and joints.
When the pain is a result of unhappy carpal bones, we can gently mobilise and stretch the joint, which encourages good quality movement, better blood flow and encourages healing. And it doesn’t end there. To give your wrists the best chance of waving merrily at a pain-free future, we also provide exercises you can do at home.
If you you stressed out wrists, please get in touch with us by giving us a call or dropping an email into our inbox. You don’t have to grin and bear wrist pain, and there’s so much we can do to help you eliminate it.
Don’t just put up with pain…
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- Laulan, J., Marteau , E., Bacle, G.(2015) Wrist osteoarthritis Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research 101 S1–S9
- Sung-Dae Choung, A., Oh-Yun Kwon, B., Kyue-Nam Park , A., Si-Hyun Kim, A., Heon-Seock Cynn, A. (2013) Short-term effects of self-mobilization with a strap on pain and range of motion of the wrist joint in patients with dorsal wrist pain when weight bearing through the hand: A case series Manual Therapy 18 568-572
- Meldon ,SW., Hargarten, SW. (1995) Ligamentous injuries of the wrist. J Emerg Med 13 217-225