Swollen wrist

Swelling in the wrist joint which may be a general swelling over the whole joint, or localised swelling on a specific area or point.
 Due to the wrist involving many bones swelling over a specific area is common and can be due to bone, ligament, soft tissue damage. A swollen wrist is usually with pain and most commonly from a fall. Wrist swelling can also be from the forearm or a fracture of the radius or ulnar higher up.

Arthritis can cause wrist swelling and pain can be present. If there is swelling in the wrist joint it may not be visible and can cause stiffness but will be clearly visible on a scan. Injuries and conditions that cause this symptom are listed below:
  • Colles Fracture of the Wrist

    Colles Fracture - Wrist

    A Colles fracture is a particular type of broken wrist which involves a break of the radius or forearm bone on the thumb side of the wrist. Deformity, severe pain and swelling would indicate this type of fracture, which is most often caused by a fall. Medical help is needed immediately to repair this wrist injury.

  • Scaphoid Fracture

    Scaphoid Fracture

    The scaphoid is one of the small group of bones in the wrist called the carpal bones. It is the most common carpal bone to fracture among athletes and is often caused by falling onto an outstretched hand. Wrist pain and trouble gripping things are symptoms of this type of fracture, and medical advice should be sought for treatment.

  • Sprained Wrist

    Sprained Wrist

    A sprained wrist is an injury to any of the ligaments which connect bone to bone in the wrist, of which there are many. It is a common wrist injury usually caused by a significant impact like a fall. There are different grades of a sprain, depending on their severity, but they can all cause significant pain. Read more about these grades and how the sprain can be treated.

  • Hook of Hamate Fracture

    Hook of Hamate Fracture

    The wrist contains a number of small bones called carpals. The hamate is a carpal bone on the outside (little finger side) of the wrist. It has a hook-shaped part which protrudes outwards and can under certain circumstances be fractured. With this injury, wrist pain occurs on the side of the little finger and the strength of grip can be reduced.

  • Wrist Strain

    Wrist Strain

    A wrist strain is a general term used to describe pain in the wrist. The pain may be due to a sudden force causing an acute wrist injury, or due to overuse, causing a repetitive strain injury. The area can feel tender, especially when moving it. Because of this, complete rest is the best treatment for recovering from a strain.

  • Dislocated Wrist

    Dislocated Wrist

    A dislocated wrist is a dislocation of any of the eight small bones called carpal bones which make up the wrist. A wrist dislocation will occur as a result of a traumatic event or fall onto the wrist. There is usually an obvious deformity along with acute wrist pain when dislocation occurs. Medical help is needed immediately, particularly as the ligaments and nerves can be seriously damaged.

  • Distal Radial Epiphysis Injury

    Distal Radial Epiphysis

    A distal radial epiphysis injury is an injury to the growth plate at the wrist end of the radius bone in the forearm. It mostly affects young athletes and is most often caused by overuse. Resting and changing training accordingly can help, although activities that exacerbate wrist pain should be stopped.

  • Bennett Fracture

    Bennett Fracture

    A Bennett fracture is an injury to the base of the thumb joint, which is usually caused by a hard impact or trauma such as punching something hard or falling onto the hand with the thumb sticking out to the side. There will be swelling and considerable wrist pain located near the thumb. It is a serious wrist injury and will require surgery to avoid long-term complications.

  • TFCC Tear

    TFCC Tear

    A TFCC tear is an injury to the triangular fibrocartilage complex, found in the wrist, between the end of the ulna bone and the carpals. A tear can be caused by a specific incident or come on gradually, resulting in wrist pain and restricted wrist and hand function. This wrist injury can often be treated with a splint, although if it is too severe, surgery may be needed.

  • Distal Radioulnar Joint Subluxation

    Distal Radioulnar Subluxation

    The distal radioulnar joint is the joint at the wrist, between the radius and the ulna, the two forearm bones. This injury is usually a subluxation, or a partial dislocation, although fractures of either bone can be involved. It is often caused by a direct impact like a fall, and medical help is needed immediately to check and treat the wrist injury.

  • Smith's Fracture

    Smiths Fracture

    A Smith's fracture is a break at the end of the radius bone, at the wrist and is often caused by a sudden impact. The fragment of fractured bone is displaced forwards to the palm side of the wrist, which causes swelling and pain to the area. You should try not to move the injured wrist afterwards, and medical help is needed as soon as possible to treat the fracture.

  • Barton's Fracture

    Bartons Fracture

    A Barton's Fracture is a fracture of the distal radius bone at the base of the thumb, and is also sometimes called a fracture dislocation. The fracture can happen on the back of the wrist or on the side of the palm, but in both cases the area will be painful and difficult to move. Medical assistance, and often surgery is needed to repair the wrist injury.

  • Carpal Fracture

    Carpal Fracture

    A carpal fracture is a break to one of the 8 small carpal bones in the wrist. A direct impact, such as a fall, usually causes this type of fracture, and symptoms include wrist pain, swelling and tenderness. As with all fractures, medical help should be sought. The wrist being in a cast is usually enough to repair the fracture, but surgery may be needed for more complex breaks.

  • Bruised Wrist

    Bruised Wrist

    A bruised wrist is also known as a wrist contusion. This occurs after an impact to the wrist which causes bleeding under the skin. The area will develop swelling and be very tender, which can be eased by applying ice. Medical treatment is often not needed, but it should be monitored for any worsening symptoms.

  • Broken Wrist

    Broken Wrist

    A broken wrist (or fractured wrist) is a fracture or break in the wrist end of either the radius and ulna forearm bones or any of the small carpal bones in the wrist. There are a number of different types of wrist fracture so an accurate diagnosis is essential. If you get a sudden wrist pain and any of the other following symptoms, you should get medical help as soon as possible.

  • Wrist Tendonitis

    Wrist Tendonitis

    Wrist tendonitis or wrist tendinopathy is inflammation, or more likely degeneration, of any of the flexor or extensor tendons which cross the wrist joint. Repetitive movement and overuse can cause stiffness and pain in the wrist, and there can also be swelling. Sports and repetitive work are common causes of tendonitis.

  • Ganglion cyst

    Ganglion cyst

    A ganglion cyst or wrist ganglion is a small lump which appears in the wrist, often attached to a ligament. The size of the cyst and the severity of the wrist pain varies from person to person. Some ganglions are not painful so can be left, but others can hinder movement and cause pain, so may require treatment. Read more about the causes, symptoms and possible treatments for ganglions.

  • Wrist Bursitis

    Wrist Bursitis

    A bursa is a small sack of fluid that lubricates where tendons move in joints, of which there are two in the wrist. If a bursa is subjected to repeated trauma or friction then it can become inflamed and swollen, causing wrist pain. Although the pain can be severe, wrist bursitis can often go away with rest, ice and compression, without the need for any major treatment.

  • Acute Wrist Injuries

    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.

  • Gradual Onset Wrist Pain

    Gradual onset injuries or chronic injuries 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 overuse or repetitive strain.