Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is a very common complaint among people of all ages. In most cases, wrist pain is due to sprains or strains. However, in the elderly wrist pain may also be due to osteoporosis, arthritis and fractures. Today, the major cause of wrist pain in young people is repetitive use of the wrist from work related activities or sports. Commonly called Carpal Tunnel, it can affect your daily activites and work related computer functions. Because the wrist is a very complex joint, making the exact diagnosis of wrist pain can be problematic at times. The exact cause of wrist pain is necessary so that proper treatment can be provided. At SFMMG we will have your wrist pain diagnosed by physicians and therapists to make sure we give you the proper diagnosis.

Types of Wrist pain

The intensity of wrist pain may vary from mild to severe. Individuals with arthritis may have constant nagging pain that may feel like an annoying toothache. Those with tendinitis or repetitive wrist injury may complain of sharp stabbing pain. Some individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome may complain of burning wrist and finger pain.

Causes of Wrist pain

Wrist injuries have many causes including the following:

- Repetitive stress that may involve racquet sports like tennis or work related such as continuous use of a key board

- Sudden impact when one falls forward on the outstretched hand

- Osteoarthritis of the wrist is not common but can occur if one has suffered an injury to the wrist in the past. Osteoarthritis causes wear and tear of the joint and causes continuous pain.

- Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in the wrist and fingers and may affect both hands.

- Other relatively common causes of wrist pain include carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts, and traumatic conditions of the wrist.

Risk factors

Wrist pain can occur in any individual but certain factors can increase the risk of wrist injury. Any type of sport can cause traumatic injuries of the wrist, including racquet sports, hockey and gymnastics.

Elderly individuals are more likely to develop osteoporosis that makes the bones brittle and more susceptible to fractures.

Women who become pregnant are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, which may be related to an imbalance of excess body fluid and sex hormones.

Systemic diseases that tend to affect the wrist include diabetes, Paget’s disease, leukemia, lupus, and underactive thyroid gland.


The diagnosis of wrist injury involves a variety of radiological tests include plain x-rays, CT scan, bone scans and MRI. CT scan can help visualize the joint in many views and MRI can evaluate the soft tissue surrounding the joint.

In some cases, arthroscopy may be required to determine the cause. This small procedure involves the use of a thin camera and the images are projected onto a monitor.

If your SFMMG doctor thinks you may have a nerve disorder like carpal tunnel syndrome, you may undergo nerve conduction test.


The treatment of wrist pain depends on the cause, severity, age and overall health. For pain relief one may take over the counter pain pills. Stronger pain pills are also available with a prescription.

Sometimes your doctor may inject corticosteroids into the joint to help relieve inflammation and pain.

The treatment of fracture may involve casts and or surgery. Individuals who have strains or sprains may be required to wear a splint until the pain has subsided. Splints can be very helpful for overuse or repetitive injuries.

Surgery is often required for displaced fractures, severe carpal tunnel syndrome and for ruptured ligaments and tendons.


It is difficult to prevent wrist injuries but one can take preventive measure to help reduce the risk.

Bone strength can be developed by eating adequate calcium and eating dairy products. To help prevent falls, one should wear decent shoes, lighten up the environment, and install grab bars in the bathroom and staircases, if necessary.

For those who are into sports, it is important to wear wrist guards. With repetitive injuries occurring at an alarming rate at work, it is important to use ergonomically designed devices like keyboards, neck rests and wrist pads. Finally, take a break from work and exercise your wrist.

San Francisco Wrist Pain Multi-Diciplinary Approach

The San Francisco Multi-Specialty Medical Group (SFMMG) provides Full Spectrum care for your Wrist Pain and Carpal Tunnel Symptoms. Our physicians and staff members represent a number of specialties including:

• Orthopedic Medicine
• Podiatry
• Physical Therapy
• Acupuncture
• Physiatry
• Chiropractic

Being able to offer appropriate, comprehensive and timely diagnosis and treatment in one place speeds recovery and reduces costs. Please call to schedule an appointment with our physicians at one of our locations.