What Causes Wrist Pain?

Health Writer

Your wrists and hands do a lot of work each day. Because they are made up of many small joints and tendons, they are prone to pain and injury. Wrist pain can happen for a variety of reasons, but mostly as the result of trauma, repetitive use, or degenerative disease.


According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, wrist sprains are a common injury. There are many little ligaments in the wrist that can be stretched or torn as a result of a fall or athletic injury. Mild wrist sprains can be treated at home with ice and rest. However, if the wrist is not improving quickly at home, it is important that a doctor evaluate the wrist to rule out a more serious injury.


The forearm is made up of two bones. The larger of the bones is called the radius. When this bone breaks near the wrist, it is often called a broken wrist. This is a common fracture because when we fall, we often try to break the fall with outstretched arms, and we land on the wrist. Fractures are usually painful and the wrist may be swollen or deformed. If you suspect you have a fracture, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Repetitive stress

Sometimes there is an onset of wrist pain without any injury or trauma. In these cases, the wrist may be sore simply from overuse. Hand and wrist overuse injuries are common. In a study of worker’s compensation claims in Washington, the rate of hand and wrist disorders were higher than any other musculoskeletal condition related to industrial claims. Repetitive motions in the hands and wrists can cause a painful condition in the wrist known as carpal tunnel syndrome. This involves a nerve traveling from the hand to the forearm that can get squeezed as it passes through the wrist. A doctor can determine the best form of treatment for overuse injuries.


Arthritis is a disease of the tissues inside the joints. With arthritis, the joints often begin to wear down and become painful. The wrist is often the first site of clinically detectable rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor will be able to determine if your wrist pain is related to arthritis by an x-ray, an MRI, or a blood test. If your wrist pain is due to arthritis, there are multiple treatments available to slow the condition and control the swelling.

See More Helpful Articles:

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How to Talk to Doctors About Pain

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Dr. Tracy Davenport is a health writer, advocate and entrepreneur who has been helping individuals live their best life. She is co-author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux. Follow Tracy’s love of smoothies on Twitter.