First Aid Management for Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is a common complaint defined as any pain or discomfort in the wrist. The wrist is the joint that connects the bones of the forearm (radius and ulna) to the bones of the hand (metacarpals). The wrist itself is composed of eight small bones, also called carpals, arranged in two rows,tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues. Wrist pain is a type of joint pain (arthralgia)

Wrist pain is typically caused by an injury to the wrist or disease affecting the wrist joint. Injuries can be caused by repetitive motion injuries, whereas diseases can develop, either genetically or from other facts. It may sometimes be difficult to diagnose the cause of wrist pain due to the variety of factors leading to pain in the wrist. However, accurate diagnosis is necessary in order to give proper treatment.

Causes of Wrist Pain

Wrist pain is either caused by a sudden injury or long-term problems. Some of the common causes of wrist pain include:

  • Injuries from direct trauma or repetitive motion
    • Sudden impact: sprains, strains, dislocation and fractures
    • Repetitive stress: stress fracture
    • Bursitis and tendinitis
  • Arthritis (long-term medical condition)
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Septic arthritis
    • Gout and pseudogout
  • Other diseases and conditions
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Ganglion cysts
    • Kienbock’s disease

Accompanying Symptoms of Wrist PainWrist Pain

Pain may either be dull or sharp, sudden or gradual. Accurate pain description may help the doctor form the right diagnosis.If any of the following symptoms accompany wrist pain, they may denote an underlying medical condition or an injury.

  • Aching, burning, tingling or numbness in the wrist, palm, fingers and thumb
  • Weak grasp or difficulty grasping
  • Pain that spreads to the elbow
  • Obvious deformity
  • Bruising, redness and swelling
  • Stiffness

First Aid Management for Wrist Pain

Not all cases of wrist pain will require medical care. For minor injuries such as sprains and strains, sufficient home treatment may suffice in managing wrist pain.

  • For cases of strains, sprains and broken bones, follow the RICE method.
    • Rest the affected wrist and avoid doing any more activities.
    • Ice the affected area for 15-20 minutes thrice daily. Wrap the ice in a towel or any cloth.
    • Compress the affected wrist using a compression bandage to limit swelling.
    • Elevate the affected area as much as possible also to limit swelling.
    • Wrap the wrist with an elastic bandage.
  • Take over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirinto help alleviate pain.
  • Drink plenty of water to help ease pain.

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. This information given should not be used for self-diagnosis of the possible conditions. Seek medical attention when necessary. To learn more about how to manage wrist pain and other body pains, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved training.


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