Wrist Pain & Hand Injuries

Wrist pain and hand injuries

Wrist pain can occur suddenly (known as acute wrist injuries) and is usually caused by a fall onto the hand with an outstretched arm or a forced twisting movement. Gradual onset injuries or chronic wrist pain occurs over a period of time and often cannot be traced back to a single incident or cause. The most common wrist and hand injuries are wrist sprains and fractures (broken wrist or broken finger). If a broken bone (fracture) is suspected, then always seek medical advice immediately. If you are not sure what your injury is then why not try our wrist pain symptom checker.

Sudden onset injuries are called acute injuries and are usually caused by a fall onto the hand with an outstretched arm or a forced twisting movement. Damage can occur to the bones, ligaments (connect bone to bone) or tendons (connect muscle to bone) in the wrist.  In the first 72 hours, the first aid principles of P.R.I.C.E. are advised including protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.  If a broken bone (fracture) is suspected, then always seek medical advice immediately.

The more common acute wrist injuries are outlined below. Or view all sudden onset wrist injuries here.

Wrist sprain

A sprained wrist is an tear to any of the ligaments which connect the bones of the wrist of which there are many. Symptoms vary depending onhow bad the injury is and its location in the joint. A sudden sharp pain in the wrist will be felt at the time of injury. Pain will be felt when moving the wrist and a specific tender spot may be felt where the ligament is torn. Wrist swelling may occur and and bruising might develop in more severe injuries. Read more on sprained wrist treatment.

Wrist strain

A wrist strain is a tear to a tendon which connects bone to the muscles which move the wrist. It may occur in conjunction to a wrist sprain and often symptoms may be difficult to differentiate, or a wrist strain can develop gradually through over use. Pain in the wrist will be felt at the time of injury and there may be a specific area which feels tender to touch. The injured tendon may be swollen. Pain is likely to be reproduced when moving the wrist against resistance (as the muscle contracts). Read more on wrist strain treatment.

Wrist fracture

A broken wrist is a fracture or break to any of the bones in the wrist joint. There are a number of specific injuries which can be classes as a wrist fracture of which the more common are Colles fracture and Scaphoid fracture. Symptoms will vary depending on the type and grade of the fracture. Sudden pain with rapid swelling is likely and the wrist may appear deformed. Pain is likely to increase when trying to move the hand. Read more on wrist fractures.

Read more on acute wrist pain.

Gradual onset injuries or chronic injures occur over a period of time and often cannot be traced back to a single incident or cause. The most common structure injured are the tendons of the wrist through over use or repetitive strain.

Gradual onset injuries or chronic injures occur over a period of time and often cannot be traced back to a single incident or cause. The most common structure injured are the tendons of the wrist through over use or repetitive strain.

The more common chronic wrist injuries are summarised below or view all gradual onset wrist injuries here.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome consist of a dull ache in the wrist and forearm with pain which may radiate into the hand and fingers and is often worse at night. It usually comes on over a period of time and may initially only be noticed at night. It can occur in one or both wrists at the same time. Read more on carpal tunnel syndrome treatment.

RSI or repetitive strain injury

RSI is a general term describing symptoms of what could be any number of causes rather than a specific injury itself. Gradual onset wrist pain is caused by overuse with symptoms which include a dull ache, sharper pain or even a throbbing sensation. Read more on causes and treatment of RSI.

Read more on chronic wrist pain causes and treatment.

Ganglion cyst

A Ganglion cyst is a small lump or swelling in the wrist that occurs as a result of a damage to the joint capsule or tendon sheath that causes the tissues to bulge out. The lump can go up and down in size and can interfere with the movement of the wrist causing problems.

Read more on Ganglion cyst causes and treatment

Injuries to the hand and fingers are common in sports and must be taken seriously.  Injuries in this area can be very debilitating and if treated incorrectly they can have long term consequences in terms of hand and finger function.

The most common hand and finger injuries are summarised below or view all hand and finger injuries here.

Sprained finger

sprained finger occurs when there is a tear to the ligaments which connect and support the finger bones (phalanges). It is usually caused by the digit being bent or twisted in some way often in a contact sport. Symptoms include pain in the finger at the time of injury with swelling is likely to develop over the joint. A finger sprain taping technique is often used to protected the hand whilst it is healing. Read more on finger sprains.

Trigger finger

A trigger finger (or thumb) occurs when the digit contracts or curves in towards the palm. Symptoms of include pain at the base of the finger on the palm side and the finger will be more stiff and painful in the mornings. There may be tenderness when touching the area and a lump called a nodule may be felt at the base of the finger. Read more on trigger finger causes and treatment.

Thumb sprain

A thumb sprain occurs when the thumb is bent out of it's normal range of movement, usually backwards causing a tear to the ligaments supporting the joint at the bottom of the thumb (known as the mcp or Metacarpophalangeal joint. Read more on treatment and how to tape for a thumb sprain.

Read more on all hand and finger injuries.