The wrist is possibly the most important joint of all in our professional and private lives. Our hands and fingers are involved in nearly every aspect of our work, whether we’re performing athletics, music, or computer work. This constant use means that the risk of injuring our wrists is extremely great, and when compounded over the years, chronic overexertion can wear at these joints, causing some of the painful conditions described below.
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Radial fractures and scaphoid fractures can cause intense pain in the wrist. Depending on the type and location of the injury, the fracture must first be set and then immobilised using a cast on the forearm. This cast can be removed after approximately four to twelve weeks, at which point the joint is free and the patient can begin to move it a little bit at a time. Recovery can be aided by physical therapy and the use of wrist supports.
OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE WRIST
Fractures, dislocation of the carpal bones and years of improper use or overuse can damage articular cartilage, causing pain that cannot be precisely localised and occasionally causing the wrist to swell. X-rays can be used to make a conclusive diagnosis.
Cases of acute osteoarthritis can be treated with pain relievers, and wrist braces or supports that prevent extreme movements of the wrist. The affected wrist should also be given a rest and kept protected.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Formed by the bones of the wrist and a transverse ligament, the carpal tunnel accommodates various flexing tendons and the median nerve, which provides sensation to the fingers. Pain arises in the hand when this tunnel becomes constricted, a condition that may result from hematomas or from overtaxing the wrist. The most typical symptom is painful paresthesia in the fingers (such as an unpleasant tingling sensation) occurring mostly at night.
Shaking or rubbing the affected hand is helpful for immediate relief, whereas long-term treatment includes improving the symptoms through the use of splints that immobilise the wrist.
Tenosynovitis is a condition affecting the tendons that run along the back of the hand and that stretch (extend) the fingers and thumbs. Problems arise when these tendons become swollen due to overexertion or to changes caused by rheumatoid diseases.
The joint should be given a rest and ice applied if necessary; above all, do not overtax the joint. Anti-rheumatoid agents provide rapid pain relief, as do wrist supports that stabilise the affected area by applying slight pressure.