How to Treat Sudden Pain in the Wrist

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According to the staff at Mayoclinic.com, sudden wrist pain can be caused by muscle strains, tendonitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and even a fracture. Fractures will need to be set by a medical professional. However, most sudden wrist pain can be treated with a combination of rest, immobilization, ice, heat, medication and exercise. A doctor visit may be required for a proper diagnosis if the inflammation and pain do not improve after a few days.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrist brace
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ice
  • Ice pack or hand towel
  • Heating pad

Treating Sudden Wrist Pain

  • Stop all physical activity involving the wrist. Wear a wrist brace to immobilize your wrist joint.

  • Take 2 ibuprofen or naproxen pills every 4 to 6 hours throughout the day. Repeat until pain and inflammation have subsided.

  • Put ice in an ice pack or inside a hand towel. Strap or tie the ice pack or towel on your wrist so that it is compressed directly against your wrist. Leave the ice on your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes. Elevate your wrist above your heart often to control inflammation and pain.

  • Once the initial inflammation and pain have subsided, use a heating pad several times per day. Before or after heat treatment, gently massage your wrist for 5 minutes. Repeat several times per day.

  • After your inflammation and pain are under control, perform the following two exercises: With your hand open and fingers extended (palm facing away), grab the back of your fingers and slowly bend your hand downward and toward the inside or fleshy side of your wrist. Stretch your wrist and forearm muscles for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 3 sets (number of times to do exercise) of 10 repetitions. Next, turn your hand around so that your palm is facing toward you (hand open and fingers extended). Grab your fingers and bend your hand backward. Get a good stretch for 5 seconds, then relax. Do 10 repetitions and 3 total sets of this exercise.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should use ice on your wrist during the first 48 to 72 hours after the onset of sudden wrist pain. This will help reduce the initial swelling, inflammation and pain. Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) which minimizes inflammation and pain by limiting the flow of blood and lymph to your ailing wrist. Once the inflammation and pain have subsided, heat can increase blood flow to your wrist. Massage and exercise also increase blood flow. Massage can also relieve tension in the wrist muscles and nerves. Stretching exercises, such as the ones above, will increase flexibility in the wrist. You can also squeeze a tennis ball to build strength in your wrist and forearm. Strengthening muscles in your wrist and forearm will better stabilize your wrist joint.
  • Never apply ice directly to your wrist as this can cause frostbite. Also, be sure to see a doctor if your pain does not diminish after several days. You may have a more serious injury that requires a professional diagnosis.

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