The wrist is a complex joint involving the articulation between 8 small carpal bones, the 2 bones of the forearm (ulna and radius) and your 5 key hand bones (metacarpals). The wrist has multiple ligaments to aid stability around each of these boney articulations. The complex nature of these articulations is what enables us to have such flexibility and combined movement options of the wrist, but of course this also means that this complex is prone to injury.
There are multiple tendons around this region involved in moving our wrist, fingers and thumb at differing joint levels. These tendons can become inflamed and painful with overuse use injuries or repetitive tasks – one example being DeQuirvain’s syndrome at the base of the thumb.
Our three main upper limb nerves (median, ulna and radial) run through the wrist complex under a thick ligamentous type structure called our retinaculum. As a result these can also be a source of wrist pain or tingling symptoms in the fingers/hand. The most common being carpal tunnel syndrome – compression/irritation of the median nerve.
In addition we have a wedge of triangular cartilage on the outside of the wrist, under the ulna (forearm bone) to aid our load bearing and wrist stability. This is called our TFCC (triangular fibrocartillage complex) – this too can become a source of pain or dysfunction in the wrist, leading to nonspecific pain around the outside of the wrist and hand and/or clicking. This can occur as a result of a traumatic incident or just gradual overuse.
Pain & Management: Wrist pain can occur as a result of direct trauma, sudden overuse or gradual wear. Treatment varies depending upon diagnosis but may include relative rest with use of a splint or taping, massage of any overused muscles and specific rehabilitative exercises.
If unsure regarding the cause of your wrist pain book an appointment with your physiotherapist to fully assess these structures and guide you regarding the correct management.