Dr. Beavers is an orthopedic surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having pain in a joint, torn or sprained a ligament, or have broken a bone contact his office for a consultation.
The wrist is one of the most delicate parts of the body.
Not only does this mean that it’s made up of several components, but it also means that it’s at a high risk of injury.
Among the most common wrist injuries are sprains and fractures. But repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome are also prevalent. And then you have degenerative disorders like arthritis.
No matter the cause of your wrist pain or injury, an orthopedic specialist can help diagnose and treat the problem for a proper recovery.
An orthopedic doctor is able to treat wrist injuries, diseases, and disorders to alleviate your symptoms.
Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth Wrist Doctors
Common Causes of Wrist Pain
The wrist is fragile and full of small parts. This means that it is very susceptible to both traumatic and repetitive stress injuries.
These injuries occur in a wide range of ways – from sports injuries to bracing yourself when you fall to overuse on a computer keyboard.
Here are a few of the most common causes of wrist pain:
- Sprains – A stretching or tearing of the ligaments in the wrist.
- Fractures – A breaking of a bone in the risk.
- Tendonitis – Swelling of the tissues in the wrist, often caused by overuse or repetitive stress.
- Arthritis – A wearing away of the cartilage in the wrist joints that often gets progressively worse with age.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A pinched nerve in the wrist that causes weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Your orthopedic surgeon will assess the cause of the problem to develop the most effective treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention plan.
Symptoms of Wrist Problems
Certain symptoms are clear signs of wrist problems.
At the top of this list is wrist pain. While minor wrist pain often goes away on its own, severe wrist pain is almost a sure sign that something is wrong.
The same goes for prolonged wrist pain. Even if it’s minor in nature, pain that doesn’t go away after a day or two is cause for concern.
Other symptoms that indicate a potential wrist problem include loss of range of motion, weakness, numbness, tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your an orthopedic specialist.
Risk Factors for Wrist Pain
Certain people are at a greater risk to develop wrist pain, although many injuries and illnesses can happen to anyone.
The main risk factors include:
- Athlete – Both traumatic and repetitive stress wrist injuries are common in many sports.
- Physical Labor – Performing physical labor for work or on a regular basis, especially lifting heavy objects, increases risk of wrist injury.
- Repetitive Activity – Any type of repetitive work – such as cutting hair or typing on a keyword – causes stress on the wrists that can result in injury in time.
Along with these risk factors, certain diseases like diabetes and arthritis will increase your chances of developing wrist pain.
Relationship between the Wrist, Hand, and Elbow
There is a close relationship between the wrist, hand, and elbow.
Because all of these body parts work as part of a larger system, pain in one area can sometimes signify a problem in a different area.
For example, wrist pain is sometimes caused by a problem in the elbow or hand, rather than a problem in the wrist itself.
In fact, pain in the elbow, hand, and wrist is sometimes even caused by a problem in the shoulder or back.
As an expert with the musculoskeletal system, an orthopedic surgeon can pinpoint the exact cause of your wrist pain, no matter what part of the body is causing it.
Non-Surgical Wrist Treatment
Most of the time, an orthopedic surgeon will recommend non-surgical treatment for a wrist injury.
This enables you to try non-invasive treatment first. If these techniques don’t solve the problem, then wrist surgery might be considered.
Some non-surgical treatments for wrist pain include:
- RICE – Orthopedic surgeons recommend rest, ice, compression, and elevation for many wrist injuries.
- Immobilization – A brace or cast can help an injured wrist heal.
- Physical Therapy – Stretches and strengthening exercises help increase the strength and flexibility in an injured wrist.
These non-surgical treatments are sometimes accompanied by pain management. Medications and injections can be used to minimize pain during the treatment process.
In some situations, an orthopedic surgeon will recommend skipping straight to surgery if the condition warrants it.
Surgical Treatment for Wrist
A number of different surgical treatments are available that work well to treat wrist pain.
These include minimally invasive surgeries as well as more complex open surgeries.
A few of the most common wrist surgeries include:
- Wrist Fusion – Removing arthritic areas and joining bones together with fusion.
- Wrist Replacement – Replacing some of the components of the wrist with prosthetic parts. Unlike other replacement surgeries, wrist replacement is usually an outpatient procedure.
- Carpal Tunnel Release – Cutting of the carpal ligament to reduce stress and tension.
Usually, an orthopedic surgeon recommends minimally invasive surgery unless an open surgery is absolutely necessary.
Wrist Rehabilitation and Recovery
Fully treating wrist pain is about more than just treating the problem itself.
It’s also about allowing ample time for rehabilitation and recovery. An orthopedic surgeon will usually recommend a recovery program, especially if you had wrist surgery.
Recovery after wrist surgery takes between one and three months. This is then followed by an even longer rehabilitation period, depending on the specifics of the surgery.
In addition to plenty of rest and keeping the wrist bandaged/immobilized, post-surgery recovery often consists of physical therapy to strengthen the risk and regain flexibility.
An orthopedic surgeon will typically recommend preventative measures that you can use to prevent similar wrist problems in the future.
Benefits of Using an Orthopedic Specialist
Orthopedic specialists are experts in the musculoskeletal system.
For wrist pain, they’re able to closely evaluate the problem to diagnose the cause and develop a comprehensive treatment program.
While wrist surgery is sometimes the necessary course of action, most of the time a combination of non-surgical techniques is all that’s needed.
They will then help create a thorough recovery and rehabilitation plan to ensure your injured wrist heals to its normal condition.
An orthopedic surgeon’s knowledge of the entire musculoskeletal system also helps them make connections between wrist pain and problems in other parts of the body (such as the hand and elbow).