The wrist’s anatomy is complex, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the cause of wrist pain. While the main cause of wrist pain is overuse, other culprits tend to be medical conditions like arthritis, gout, and/or fibromyalgia.
If you have no obvious injury or underlying medical condition, figuring out the cause of wrist pain can seem puzzling – but not for your wrist doctor. Your wrist doctor will assess your medical history, perform a physical exam, and possibly order imaging tests and other diagnostic tests to rule out some possible causes. The orthopedic physician will then determine a diagnosis and explain your treatment options.
Let’s talk about the main medical conditions that tend to be associated with wrist pain, how to tell each of them apart, and where you can go throughout North Dakota to get effective treatment for your wrist pain.
Wrist Pain Due to Arthritis
Any form of the more than 100 types of arthritis can strike your wrist with symptoms such as pain, swelling, weakness, and stiffness. The most common forms of arthritis that can afflict your wrist are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is an autoimmune disease, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the synovial lining of your wrist joint. In this type of arthritis, you can experience painful joint swelling which may result in bone erosion. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect both of your wrists, and it can also affect other tissues and organs in your body where synovial tissue resides.
Having an increased level of RA antibodies in your blood is a sign that your wrist pain may be due to rheumatoid arthritis. Your orthopedic doctor will probably take a normal blood draw to test your blood for these antibodies and other indicators of inflammation.
- Young athletes and older adults are likely to have one or more joints affected by this type of arthritis, so it is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear-and-tear breakdown of cartilage between bones in a joint, and this lack of enough cushiony cartilage increases friction between the bones when you move – and you are likely to experience pain and swelling in the affected joint(s).
Missing or damaged cartilage as shown in an imaging test, such as an MRI, is an indicator of osteoarthritis. Your orthopedic wrist doctor may recommend that you have an MRI so that the physician can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe proper treatment for your wrist pain.
When Gout Causes Wrist Pain
This is a type of inflammatory arthritis in which uric acid crystals accumulate in a joint and cause pain.
Normally, your body breaks down the food that contains purines and produces uric acid which dissolves in your blood and is removed naturally from the body via the kidneys. Sometimes, when your body produces too much uric acid or fails to sufficiently excrete uric acid, the excess uric acid becomes crystallized and starts to accumulate in a joint. When uric acid crystals deposit in your wrist joint, you feel wrist pain and swelling.
To determine whether uric acid (causing gout) is the cause of your wrist pain, your wrist doctor will perform a joint aspiration – a test in which joint fluid is drawn and checked for the presence of uric acid crystals and white blood cell count. If this test shows a positive result for uric acid crystals, then colchicine (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID) and dietary modifications will be recommended by your wrist doctor.
Fibromyalgia and Generalized Pain
Fibromyalgia is a central pain disorder in which you may experience a combination of musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and memory and mood issues. Wrist pain that is (1) constant, (2) most severe in the morning, (3) not from any known inflammation, and (4) initially localized in the wrist but then spreads to other locations, can be due to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause damage to the wrist joint like arthritis does; however, it can worsen your arthritis pain.
Wrist pain due to fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose due to the absence of specific tests and procedures. This is why a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made by your wrist doctor ruling out the other possible conditions that could cause wrist pain, and assessing the pain severity as well as other symptoms like fatigue and memory problems.
Fibromyalgia treatment focuses on only easing the specific symptoms with targeted pain-relief medications.
Wrist Pain Treatment in North Dakota
If your wrist hurts, and home remedies such as rest and ice have failed to provide you with lasting relief, trust one of our skilled wrist doctors for diagnosis and treatment. Here at The Bone & Joint Center, our orthopedic doctors have years of experience in treating a wide range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, including wrist pain. Our providers will conduct a thorough evaluation to pinpoint the precise cause of your wrist pain, and recommend necessary treatments to address the pain once and for all.
If you have any questions about your unique problem or would like to make an appointment with one of our outstanding wrist doctors, call us today at (800) 424-2663 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you!