Common causes of wrist injuries
Golf and tennis are two sports that can cause significant stresses across the wrist. The repetitive nature of the golf swing or the various tennis strokes can cause injury to the wrist. Other activities such as yard work and woodworking can also cause problems.
The wrist is a complicated structure and is the connector between the forearm and the hand. Eight small bones known as the carpus connect the forearm to the hand. Ligaments and cartilage interconnect these bones. In addition there are more than 20 tendons that cross the wrist on their way to the hand. An injury to one part of the wrist can lead to injuries to other parts of the wrist, often serious if left untreated.
Most of the time, a significant injury to the wrist or forearm is apparent. Falling on an out stretched arm is the most common cause of the so-called wrist fracture and the deformity is often obvious and the pain severe enough to seek immediate medical attention.
There are, however, injuries that can occur with repetitive activities as mentioned above that are thought to be sprains of the wrist or forearm. A minor fall with wrist soreness often is assumed to be a simple strain. Often that is the case and these injuries will respond to limiting activities, anti-inflammatory agents and time. A simple splint that controls movement of the wrist may also be helpful. A gradual return to normal activity with intermittent use of a splint for vigorous activities can prevent a recurrence of the injury.
Persistent stiffness or swelling is a cause for concern. Likewise, a painful catching or clicking in the wrist can be a sign of ligament or cartilage injury. Early orthopedic evaluation of these complaints is important because treatments become more difficult as times passes. Diagnostic studies including MRI scans and wrist arthroscopy may be useful in evaluating difficult problems in the wrist.
Michael J. Murphy, MD is an American Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon at Cape Cod Hospital. He also offers a specific focus on hand surgery.