Common Causes of Wrist Pain

Are you suffering from wrist pain? Whether it’s the result of a repetitive use or arthritis, wrist pain can make simple activities like typing or carrying groceries difficult.

At Rebound, our team of hand surgeons are experts in the complex structures of the hand and wrist, with specialty training in dealing with the intricate systems of touch and sensation, tendon gliding, joint movement, and muscle contraction. A problem with of any of these systems can compromise your activity level and quality of life. Our Hand Center and team offers comprehensive care for wrist pain caused by the conditions below.

Learn about some of the common causes of wrist pain:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is condition that involves the entrapment and inflammation of nerves and tissues in the wrist and hand. It is often associated with professions or activities that require the use of the hands for extended periods of time, particularly repetitive motions. You may also be more susceptible if you are living with arthritis or diabetes.

Some symptoms include:

  • Hand and wrist pain that leaves a sensation of numbness, burning or tingling
  • Pain that travels throughout the arm and shoulder
  • Shooting pain in thumb, index and middle fingers
  • Weakness in the wrist and hand
  • Difficulty making a fist, making small movements or gripping

Learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome and treatment from our experts here.

Wrist Tendonitis

Tendonitis is an incredibly common issue. When the tendons in the wrist become inflamed or irritated, you may be experiencing wrist tendonitis. Wrist tendonitis can also occur when you’ve developed micro tears in the tendons of the wrist. Most often, it is the result of repetitive use, keeping your hand in an unnatural position for long stretches of time, forceful exertion, jobs that involve vibration, aging and sports.

Common symptoms include:

  • Wrist pain that worsens with movement
  • Grating, grinding sensation of the tendon
  • Wrist swelling and redness

A form of wrist tendonitis, known as De Quervain’s tendinitis is a common condition that primarily affects the wrist and tendon at the base of the thumb. The condition typically develops when the tendon becomes strained and inflamed from chronic overuse.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pain and sensitivity in the wrist
  • Difficulty extending the thumb
  • Difficulty grasping or pinching
  • Pain near the base of the thumb
  • Catching, locking or snapping sensation

Dr. Musgrave explains more about De Quervain’s here.


As many may know, arthritis is the inflammation of a joint or multiple joints. When joints are inflamed due to cartilage that has worn down with time, you may be experiencing osteoarthritis. This condition often occurs in the wrist as we age, and can cause swelling, pain and make movement and gripping objects difficult. Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder, can also be the culprit for wrist pain. When you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks joints and tissues in your body.

Wrist Sprain

If you’ve recently fallen and braced yourself with your hand, or are involved in sports that involve heavy use of your hands, you’re at a higher risk for wrist sprain. These types of incidences cause the ligaments (which control motion and help stabilize) in the wrist to overstretch, which leads to a sprain.

You might experience these symptoms:

  • Pain with movement
  • Tingling sensation
  • Bruising and swelling

Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a benign, fluid-filled lump that develops on the back of the hand or the wrist. Some people may experience pain if the cyst creates pressure on a nerve or is near a nerve. When this happens, tingling, numbness and weakness might also accompany the pain. Age, joint and tendon injuries, and osteoarthritis may increase your likelihood of developing a ganglion cyst.

Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Injury

The triangular fibrocartilage complex works to cushion, stabilize, support and absorb shock for the bones in the wrist. It comprised of ligaments and cartilage, and is located between the ulna and carpals. Slight injuries to this area may simply result in a wrist sprain. However, when the cartilage tears or breaks down from injury (such as strong impact) or age, you are more likely to experience:

  • More intense pain in the wrist or little finger
  • Clicking and popping
  • Difficulty moving

Trauma injuries or falling on an outstretched hand are usually responsible for triangular fibrocartilage complex injuries.