Wrist Injury – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Wrist and metacarpal injuries are more common in contact sports, racquet sports, and gymnastics. The wrist represents one of the most complicated regions of the musculoskeletal anatomy. It is comprised of 15 bones, 27 articular surfaces, and an elaborate system of ligaments that maintain these bones and surfaces in proper relation to one another.

The wrist joint is formed proximally by the distal surface of the radius and ulna and the attached fibrocartillage disc, and distally by the scaphoid, lunate and triquetral bones. The wrist as a region extends from the distal radius and ulna to the base of the metacarpals. The wrist positions and supports the hand and therefore has to combine strength and precision with a wide range of movement with stability.

Wrist pain is common. Repetitive motion can damage your wrist. Everyday activities like typing, racquet sports or sewing can cause pain, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist pain with bruising and swelling can be a sign of injury. The signs of a possible fracture include misshapen joints and inability to move your wrist. Some wrist fractures are a result of osteoporosis.


You can also have wrist pain from repetitive use that results in an inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis). This is termed a repetitive motion injury and is really not a true sprain. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another common wrist injury that may occur from repetitive motion.


When an injury occurs, pain and swelling are the main symptoms. The wrist may become discolored and bruised. Doctors refer to this as ecchymosis. The wrist may remain painful for several weeks. There are no specific symptoms that allow your doctor to determine whether a wrist ligament injury has occurred.

Typically, there will be pain, tenderness, swelling, or bruising of the injured wrist. If the injury is serious, you may have trouble moving the wrist.

Wrist Injury Treatment

If there is no fracture seen on the x-ray, the doctor may diagnose a sprain. In cases where there is tenderness in the anatomical snuffbox, the doctor may also suspect there may be a fracture of the scaphoid that is not apparent on the x-rays.

For more severe sprains, you will likely be given a Velcro wrist splint that you can take on and off. Also you might be prescribed some form of pain medication. You should make sure that you let the doctor know what other medications you are taking and any allergies that you have.

Corticosteroid injection for carpal tunnel improves symptoms in more than half of patients; surgical intervention to release the transverse ligament and decompress the nerve entrapment may be indicated

NSAIDs reduce inflammation and use of cock-up splints applied during activities and while sleeping reduces strain from repetitive use and reduces symptoms