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Wrist Pain

Q: Lately I've been experiencing a dull pain in my wrist that occasionally spreads up into my forearm. At first it was off and on, but it seems to be getting worse. There are days when something as simple as picking up my coffee mug or doing cross-stitch makes me wince. Is there anything I can do to stop the pain?

Dr. Donnica:
There are many causes of wrist pain, the most common of which is an injury of some sort, although injuries often have accompanying bruising or swelling. Common wrist injuries include fractures, sprains, strains, and several types of tendonitis. Most causes of wrist pain are initially treated by rest, elevation, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicine (e.g. ibuprofen or naproxen). If the pain persists or worsens after a few days of conservative treatment, please consult your physician for an examination.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common cause of wrist pain. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist, usually due to repetitive motions such as computer typing or cross-stitching. You may feel aching, burning, numbness, or tingling in your palm, wrist, thumb, or fingers. The thumb muscle can become weak, making it difficult to grasp things like your coffee mug. The pain may extend up your forearm to your elbow. Additional risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, menopause, diabetes, PMS, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and being overweight. Arthritis itself (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis) may also cause wrist pain.

Created: 4/8/2005  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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