The wrist consists of many small bones which then articulate with each other to create numerous joints. And with bones and joints come muscles, tendons, ligaments and more structures! So yes… it can get complicated. But let’s run through a few examples of common sources of wrist pain. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and as always, you should see a healthcare professional for an individualised assessment.
TFCC stands for triangular fibrocartilage complex. It holds the two ends of the forearm bones together and serves to stabilise, support, and cushion the wrist. There are two common causes for a TFCC tear:
Symptoms may include
Distal radius fracture
The radius is a bone that runs along the thumb-side of the forearm and connects to the thumb. A distal radius fracture is a break in the part of the radius close to the thumb. It typically occurs when falling on an outstretched hand. This is one of the most common types of upper body fractures and can be further classified into different types of distal radius fractures! It can often be diagnosed with an x-ray.
Scapho-lunate ligament injury
The scapho-lunate ligament connects the small scaphoid and lunate bones in the wrist together. This ligament is also commonly injured when falling on an outstretched hand. However, it can also occur from repeated strains or age-related changes. Injury to this structure can result in scapho-lunate instability. This type of injury may also be accompanied by a scaphoid fracture.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where one of the nerves supplying the hand (the median nerve) becomes compressed as it passes through the wrist. This condition tends to develop gradually without specific trauma and symptoms may be inconsistent early on. Often there is not a singular cause for this but rather a combination of factors. These include:
How can physiotherapy help?
Management for all these conditions and each individual will vary. However, physiotherapy can certainly help you to restore wrist and hand function. The key principles are to firstly reduce pain and swelling, restore range of motion, and then improve strength and functional capacity. In some cases, you may also need further input from a doctor.
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