5 ways to manage wrist injury and pain

We take our hands, and being able to use them, for granted. Typing, driving, carrying bags, jotting down a note: the list goes on. But if you damage your wrist these once automatic actions can become fraught with pain.

There are many causes of wrist pain. From direct injury as a result of trauma, to overuse injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or disease such as arthritis, the one thing they have in common is an ability to stop you from continuing to lead a normal life. Luckily there are steps you can take to help correct any damage, manage pain and take control back into your hands so you can get on with life.

1) Effective wrist support that won't hold you back

Wrist

Supporting (or splinting) the wrist can help limit pain caused by certain conditions, or aid repair, such as for fractures. Traditionally restrictive plaster casts were used, but recently lightweight, thermoplastic options have become available, that allow you to get on with your life whilst supporting your wrist appropriately. The EXOS reformable and waterproof bracing system can be softened with heat for a tailored fit that is comfortable. As it is waterproof you can still swim: which is ideal if that is part of your exercise rehabilitation programme, or if you're just planning on going away on holiday. Another feature, which is particularly useful if you're jetting away to warmer climates, is the self-adjustment facility. This allows you to loosen or tighten the brace yourself - ideal if you find your wrist swells in the heat. Specially designed to isolate the wrist without impacting on finger movement, this brace means you can still maintain a firm grip, and it is a lot less bulky than a traditional plaster cast, allowing greater flexibility of movement.

2) Making changes to prevent further damage

Adjusting your activities to make sure the way you do things doesn't aggravate the joint can help prevent worsening of wrist pain. That doesn't mean stop moving it altogether, as that can lead to lost mobility and increased pain. Instead, speak to your physiotherapist or specialist hand therapist for advice on how you can learn to carry out actions in a way that won't cause more damage. They can also advise you on safe exercises, which will help strengthen wrist muscles, improve flexibility and reduce pain.

3) Ice packs and heat pads

Heat and cold therapy are among the most commonly used treatments for wrist pain, but which is right for you? Ice packs can be used after injury, such as a sprain or strain, to help to reduce swelling and are also useful for calming inflammation from over-use injuries. They should only be used after exercise, not before.

Before exercising, applying heat can help to warm up muscles and loosen them. It can stimulate blood flow to an area, so shouldn't be used after an acute injury like a sprain or strain.

4) Cortisone injections

Cortisone injections don't treat the pain, but do reduce the inflammation that causes pain. It can be injected directly into the site of the inflammation in high concentrations and the relieving effects can be felt for several weeks. There's no set rule about how many injections can be given to an individual, although many consultants prefer to limit the treatment to 3 sessions.

5) Wrist arthroscopy

Some wrist conditions may require surgery. Wrist arthroscopic surgery (also known as keyhole surgery) usually takes around 20 minutes, and during that time your surgeon will use a small camera, inserted into your wrist through small incisions, to identify the cause of your pain. Often your surgeon will be able to take steps to treat the problem at the same time.

To book your consultation call us on 0800 404 6660.

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  • Woman Women's Health Stay on top of your health with our tips, advice and Q&A’s with leading women’s health Consultants.
  • Consultant Consultant Q&As Read the interviews with some of our leading consultants.