Wrist Bursitis

Wrist Bursitis

Wrist bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, which is a small sack of fluid that helps lubricate the movement of tendons over bone. There are two bursas in the wrist, and repetitive trauma or friction can cause them to become inflamed. Treatment involves rest and reducing inflammation.

Wrist bursitis symptoms

Symptoms of wrist bursitis include:

  • Wrist pain, especially when extending (bending backwards)
  • Pain on weight-bearing
  • A small lump or swelling on the top of the wrist
  • Tenderness pressing in
  • May warm to the touch

Wrist bursitis causes & anatomy

Bursas are all over the body, in places where soft tissues may rub against each other or the underlying bone. Wrist bursitis affects people who tend to put a lot of weight on their hands, for example, cyclists.

There are two bursas in the wrist;  the radial bursa and the ulnar bursa. The radial bursa surrounds the flexor pollicis longus tendon on the thumb and palm sides of the wrist.

The ulna bursa surrounds the tendons of the flexor digitorum superficialis and profundus muscles, more centrally on the palm side of the wrist.

Causes of bursitis are either sudden trauma, or repetitive strain/overuse. In the latter, the bursa becomes inflamed and swollen due to repetitive friction.

Treatment

Rest and apply cold therapy if it is acute or painful. Use a compression bandage to help reduce swelling.

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Cold therapy

A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. Ultrasound therapy may be used to help reduce pain and inflammation. In more severe cases the bursa can be aspirated, where a needle is inserted to suck out the fluid, although it is possible the bursa will return. Bursitis usually dies down after a week or so if it is left to recover.

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