What Are the Common Causes of Wrist Pain?

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Oct 5, 2022 11:45:00 AM

If you have a physically demanding job, you're probably no stranger to wrist pain. A 2019 study found that 10% of people in physically demanding jobs and sports have short-term wrist pain. 

Our wrists are critical for allowing us to use our hands freely. We rely on them for everything from texting or typing, picking up the kids, and driving a car. If your problem develops into chronic wrist pain it can start to have a big impact on your daily life.

Let's explore the common causes of wrist pain and how to get rid of wrist pain.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

If your work or hobbies involve making repetitive movements, you may develop repetitive strain injury (RSI). This injury affects the muscles, nerves, and tendons in your wrists.

This can cause chronic wrist pain and other problems, including:

  • Cold hands
  • Tremors and weakness
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty gripping
  • Burning or shooting pains in the wrist and hands

Even relatively low-impact activities such as typing, cutting hair, assembly line work, and painting can cause RSI. 

If your doctor diagnoses this issue, he or she may recommend physical therapy. This can help to reduce the pain and increase the strength of your wrist. They can also provide advice to help you reduce the risk of recurrence.

Injury or Impact

Our wrists are very vulnerable to injury. That's because our natural instinct is to stretch out our hands to steady ourselves if we lose our balance or to try to break our fall. That can lead to sprained and even fractured wrists.

Sprains can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and mean that you can't use your wrist for a time. If you've fractured your wrist, the pain is usually even more severe. You may be unable to grip things or notice a visible deformity in the wrist.

This is a time to seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will order an x-ray and you may need to wear a cast for a while.

But old injuries can also cause ongoing wrist pain. A pain specialist can help to find out why you're still in pain and suggest wrist pain treatment to help you overcome it.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most common long-term wrist pain causes is carpal tunnel syndrome. About 50 Americans in every 1,000 are affected. 

The carpal tunnel is a passage in your wrist that the median nerve runs through. This nerve extends from the top of your arm into your hand. It's responsible for the movement of three of your fingers and your thumb.

When you have carpal tunnel syndrome the median nerve becomes compressed. This can be caused by repetitive movements, such as typing or knitting, but may also be caused by other health conditions. It causes burning, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands.

First, your doctor will want to rule out other causes of joint pain and numbness before making a diagnosis. Then your doctor may suggest exercises, adjustments to your work, or medication that can help to treat the symptoms.

If these types of wrist pain treatments are not effective, you may need surgery. This is a very common procedure with a high success rate. It creates more room in the tunnel for the median nerve, reducing the pressure and relieving the symptoms.

Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts can develop on any joint in the body, but they're most common on the back of the wrist. They're swellings that are full of fluid. They are noticeable under the skin and can be very small or grow as large as a golf ball.

If they're not causing you any pain, they can be left untreated. Over time, they may resolve themselves. But if they're causing you pain, there are treatment options available.

One is an aspiration. This involves a doctor using a syringe to remove the contents of the cyst. This is usually painless and is quick and effective. 

If this does not work, you may need surgery to remove the cyst. If pain continues after surgery, you may need physical therapy.


People with arthritis have reduced levels of cartilage in their wrists. As the wrist contains many small bones, the reduced level of cartilage causes wrist pain when the bones rub together.

There are several forms of arthritis that can cause chronic wrist pain. Osteoarthritis is the most common and occurs as people get older. 

Autoimmune forms of arthritis are also causes of wrist pain. Rheumatoid arthritis may start in the wrist and usually attacks both wrists. Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the wrists.

If your doctor diagnoses arthritis, wrist pain treatment may include:

  • Steroid injections into the wrist
  • Exercises
  • Prescription drugs
  • Specific treatment for the type of arthritis you have
  • Support, such as wrist braces

If the wrist pain is severe and makes everyday life difficult, you may be able to undergo surgery to improve the symptoms.


Gout is one of the common causes of joint pain but we usually associate it with the feet. It's unusual to just have gout in the wrists. It's caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints.

It is a form of arthritis and should be diagnosed by a doctor who specializes in this field. Medications, painkillers, and lifestyle changes can also help to reduce the symptoms. This could also minimize further flare-ups.

Let AZ Pain Doctors Find the Causes of Wrist Pain

There are many causes of wrist pain and it can make daily life a drag. To break free from chronic wrist pain, you need support from doctors who specialize in pain relief.

At AZ Pain Doctors we understand the impact wrist pain can have on your life. That's why we're dedicated to diagnosing the root cause to provide you with the most effective treatment possible. Our multidisciplinary approach gets the best results for our patients.

To schedule an appointment, call us at 602-795-8700 or reach out online today!

Topics:causes of wrist pain