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5 Common Causes of Wrist Pain

You use your hands and wrists every day. So wrist pain, whether it's due to a sports injury, a degenerative condition, or repetitive strain from typing or other repetitive work, can severely disrupt your life.   

Our team of orthopedic surgeons at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, diagnose and treat a wide range of wrist problems. Let's explore five of the most common causes of wrist pain.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Your carpal tunnel is a narrow opening in your wrist that surrounds your median nerve as it extends into your hand. The carpal tunnel consists of bone on three sides and a band of connective tissue on the other. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when inflammation reduces the space available in your carpal tunnel and compresses the nerve that passes through it. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by repetitive motion or holding your wrist in a flexed or extended position for a prolonged time. You might also develop carpal tunnel syndrome as a side effect of diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disease. Carpal tunnel may also be due to swelling caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy.


Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common causes of wrist pain. Osteoarthritis is the degenerative type of the disease. It develops as the cushioning cartilage in your joints wears away, leading to increased painful friction, irritation, and swelling in your joints. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. Your immune system attacks the synovial lining of your joints, triggering swelling, and pain. Your synovium produces fluid that helps lubricate and protect your joints. Over time, the irritation of rheumatoid arthritis leads to the breakdown of your cartilage and bone spurs. 

Ganglion cysts

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that rises out of a joint, like a balloon. Ganglion cysts are very common but usually harmless. They can compress nerves in your wrist, triggering pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. 

Physicians don't fully understand the causes of ganglion cysts. However, the cysts are more common in gymnasts and other athletes who put significant stress on their wrists. Also, the lumps tend to get bigger with continued wrist activity and subside with rest. 

De Quervain's tenosynovitis

De Quervain's tenosynovitis affects the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist and causes pain and swelling near the base of your thumb. You might also have trouble grasping or pinching objects or feel a sticking sensation when you move your thumb.

In most cases, De Quervain's tenosynovitis is due to chronic overuse of your wrist. It can also develop after a traumatic wrist injury or as a side effect of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Sprains and fractures

Wrist injuries like sprains and fractures are common in sports. For example, if you fall on an outstretched hand or catch your fingers on another player, the sudden force in abnormal direction can damage your wrist's ligaments or bones. Sprains and fractures cause pain, swelling, bruising, and reduced movement. You might even hear or feel a popping or tearing sound when you injure yourself. 

You should never ignore pain — it's how your body signals that something is wrong. If you have wrist pain, call or schedule a consultation online with our team of orthopedic specialists for expert diagnosis, and personalized treatment.

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