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Wrist pain

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 3 min read

Wrist pain is common, and there are many different causes. If you have had some sort of trauma like a high-impact injury such as a fall there may be the possibility of a broken bone. If you have not had any trauma, there are many different causes such as skin problems, joint problems like arthritis or gout, muscle and tendon problems like repetitive strain injury, along with many more. If you have severe pain, or pain that is not settling with some simple pain relief then you may need to seek advice from your doctor.

Do I need an X-ray?

If you have had a nasty traumatic injury and have severe pain you may require an X-ray. Symptoms that suggest a fracture is possible are if you are unable to use the wrist normally, or if the wrist appears to be at a different angle to normal, and if there's significant bruising and swelling around the area. There are many simple causes of wrist pain that don’t require anything other than some self-treatment at home. Repetitive strain injury or simple strains and sprains can be common causes of wrist pain.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

Resting the wrist and taking some simple pain relief such as paracetamol is a good place to start. If there has been an injury, an ice pack or bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel may provide some added relief.

Your pharmacist is an expert and can recommend further treatments such as different pain killers, topical treatments, or support for the injured wrist.

When should I see my doctor?

Most causes of wrist pain will improve with some self-treatment. If you still have pain that is not improving after two weeks then you should book a routine appointment with your doctor to discuss.

You should seek more urgent medical attention if you have severe pain. If you are concerned you have suffered a fracture, or have a high impact injury to your wrist such as a fall, you will likely require an X-ray.

If you have severe symptoms such as numbness, weakness, fevers you should seek urgent medical advice from your doctor or 111.

What will my doctor do?

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, your medical history, any relevant family medical history, and what medications you are currently taking. They will examine your wrist, check your temperature, and potentially do other tests such as blood tests or X-rays.

If you attended a hospital, a doctor or nurse will examine you, and if there is a concern for a fracture you will have an X-ray and various other tests. If a fracture is confirmed you will be advised of the best next step.

Related topics

Read about Gout

Read about Arthritis

Read about Rheumatoid arthritis

Read about Carpal tunnel syndrome

Read about Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

Read about Repetitive strain injury from gaming or computer use

Read about Ganglion cyst

Read about Arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)

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