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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

What Causes Inflammatory Wrist Pain?

Inflammation of the wrist is generally caused when fluid in the tissue gets built up. The cause behind your swollen wrist can vary, but you should always contact an orthopaedic specialist if your condition persists or worsens.

Here are some factors that may have contributed to your inflammatory wrist pain, so you can better understand your treatment options.

Wrist Inflammation After an Injury

The wrist joint is composed of:

  • Bones

  • Muscles

  • Nerves

  • Ligaments

  • Tendons

  • Blood vessels

All of these components can be damaged through injury, leading to swelling and pain. These are usually symptoms of orthopaedic trauma - such as a sprained wrist or a fracture. Injuries to the wrist are typically caused by:

  • Falling: We automatically try to stop our falls by catching ourselves. However, catching yourself with an outstretched hand can cause bones to break or shift, pinch or severe nerves, and tear muscles and ligaments.

  • Direct Impacts: A sudden, forceful impact to the wrist can cause a traumatic injury that damages the joint and results in swelling.

  • Sports-Related: Wrist injuries are a common occurrence in contact sports such as hockey, lacrosse, and hokey.

Common symptoms that accompany wrist inflammation after an injury include:

  • Bruising

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Weakness

  • Impacted range of motion

  • Pain in the hand or fingers

Depending on the type of injury, some of these symptoms can appear before the inflammation begins. It's important to note which symptoms appeared first and which developed over time.

Chronic Wrist Swelling and Pain

Overuse of the wrist joint can cause stress and (ultimately) damage the nerves, blood vessels, and tendons in the wrist. This results in chronic conditions that lead to prolonged inflammation and pain. Eventually this interferes with everyday activities and reduces a person’s quality of life.

The most common conditions that cause chronic inflammatory wrist pain include:

  • Tendonitis: When overuse or repetitive motion places strain on the tendons, they can become irritated and inflamed. This is what's known as tendonitis.

  • Arthritis: Arthritis occurs then the cartilage in the joint starts to thin and break down. This can be from general wear-and-tear joints experience as we age or from a traumatic injury in the past.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in the wrist that helps protect the nerve responsible for moving fingers in the hand. Overuse can inflame the passage’s tissues, compressing the nerve and causing pain.

  • De Quervian’s Tendinosis: This occurs when the tendons around the thumb become irritated and swollen. Pain and inflammation typically occur near the thumb side of the wrist.

The majority of these chronic conditions (if diagnosed early) can be treated nonsurgically. Conservative treatment measures may include:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Elevation

  • Compression

  • Bracing

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Steroid injections

  • Physical therapy

Although inflammatory wrist pain occurs in all of these conditions, it’s essential to have your wrist swelling properly diagnosed. This will allow your orthopaedic physician to develop a personalized plan that addresses your needs.

If your chronic condition is severe (or conservative measures do provide relief), Dr. Joseph may recommend surgery to resolve the issue.

Contact Dr. Joseph to Diagnose Your Inflammatory Wrist Pain

If you are experiencing pain and swelling in your wrist, contact Dr. Joseph! Known for his compassion and skill, Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery will accurately diagnose your issue and expertly design a treatment plan that gets you back to doing the activities you love.

Schedule your appointment today by calling (970) 476-7220 or submit a request using our online appointment form.

Don’t live with inflammatory wrist pain - call Team Joseph today!

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