Causes And Treatments For A Swollen Wrist
Until you have personally had the misfortune of suffering from a swollen wrist, you can never really appreciate just how much you rely on that particular part of your body. Your wrists are used for a multitude of daily functions including eating, picking up items, driving, working on the computer, answering the telephone and completing personal hygiene tasks such as brushing your teeth, hair, bathing and getting dressed.
Since your wrists are actually made up of many small bones, muscles and ligaments, they are one of the most delicate parts of your body and are quite prone to injury with minimum impact. Performing certain movements excessively can often lead to a swollen wrist too, as can a number of other influencing factors.
- Injury – One of the number one causes of a swollen wrist is due to injury which is traditionally either sports-related or the result of a slip and fall accident. People that participate in gymnastics and figure skating traditionally suffer from the most wrist injuries. A wrist injury that is caused by an increase of pressure being placed on the bones will often cause either a tear in the muscles or ligaments or a fracture to the bones. Any of these conditions can result in both pain and inflammation. Additionally, picking up heavy objects or overusing the wrist can also cause injury.
- Arthritis – It is not uncommon for individuals with arthritis to suffer from a swollen wrist. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are common in the elderly population and cause both an uncomfortable amount of pain and swelling. This condition is very easily recognized because the pain usually begins at the thumb's base and then spreads outward. In some people, the skin will appear to be red and will feel warm to physically touch the area.
- Wrist Tendonitis – A swollen wrist is often due to wrist tendonitis which is caused by an irritation to the tendons. This most commonly occurs in people that perform repetitive actions or those that keep their wrist in an awkward position while they sleep or work on the computer.
Traditionally, a swollen wrist should be taken care of the way that any type of inflammation is. Ice packs are the best home remedy as is resting the area. The coldness of the ice decreases the inflammation which ultimately reduces the pain. Always take caution to not allow ice to directly touch the skin.
If ice is not helping the swelling or the pain, you need to seek medical attention so that an X-ray and physical examination can be performed on the area. X-rays are usually done because they can identify if there is damage to the bones or an alignment problem that is causing the swelling. On occasion, an MRI may be ordered to find the exact cause of the inflammation.
Once a cause is determined, the doctor can prescribe remedies and medication accordingly. If the swelling and pain is due to a non-alignment of the bones or a fracture, the doctors will put a cast around it to keep the area stable while it heals or the healing process could result in deformities.
If the inflammation is found to be because of arthritis, the doctor may advise precautionary measures such as resting the area and not picking up anything heavy with that hand. For some people, compression bandages are helpful to decrease pain. The wrist should be kept elevated and massage on and around the area may be recommended to help soothe the pain. Certain wrist exercises may be required to help strengthen the area and prevent any future mishaps.