Here's What's Really Causing Your Wrist Pain

Ask most people to go a day without using their hands or wrists and they'd be hard-pressed to pull it off. Even an hour would probably wear down most people. We rely on the mobility of our fingers, hands, and wrists in most of our day-to-day activities. For this reason, it probably doesn't come as a shock that some people suffer from acute wrist pain as a result.

There are no hard and fast numbers on the prevalence of wrist pain among the general population. A 2019 study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Discord highlighted this issue, stating that research on generalized wrist pain is sorely lacking. The study did suggest that people whose work involves manual labor or sports are more likely to have wrist pain than the general population, but that was as far as their findings went.

Those aren't the only risk factors, of course. MedlinePlus lists several potential disorders and injuries that can generate wrist pain, each with its own underlying cause. Some of these causes crop up, seemingly regardless of behavioral factors, such as arthritis and ganglion cysts. Most causes, however, boil down to one behavioral trait that can be surprisingly hard to avoid.

Overuse is the biggest culprit of wrist pain

MedlinePlus lists 7 common root causes for wrist pain. Some of them, like gout and ganglion cysts, have nothing to do with strain on a person's wrist. The other 5 causes, however, all come down to wear and tear on a person's wrist. This often comes through repetitive motion.

Tendonitis, in particular, is tied to the overuse of the wrist tendon. The Mayo Clinic says that it can occur in any tendon and goes by many names, like tennis elbow and pitcher's shoulder. However, the wrist is among the most common tendons affected, in addition to the shoulders, heels, elbows, and knees. Sports can bring on the condition, but so can typing on the computer, video games, and other repetitive motions that rely heavily on the wrists and hands. Tendonitis is similar to Carpal tunnel syndrome, but that condition affects a nerve in the wrist, rather than the tendon.

Each root cause creates a different array of symptoms that medical professionals can use to diagnose the ailment, according to MedlinePlus. Just as every condition has different symptoms, each has specialized treatments that can help. As MedlinePlus points out, however, many cases of wrist pain can be treated by resting the wrist and avoiding straining it whenever possible.