Wrist Injury – Burlington, Aldershot
Injuries to the wrist are quite common due in part to the many bones, joints, tendons and ligaments keeping them functioning as well as the fact that our hands and arms are used for many of our daily activities. Our hands and arms are also natural defense mechanisms as often when we trip or fall we use them to ‘catch ourselves’ or break a fall. People can experience wrist or hand pain and concerns due to everyday activity, work related injury, repeated use injury as well as sports or accidents. Although wrist injuries are usually successfully managed without any long-term or significant injury, most people often fail to seek treatment until the symptoms become substantial. As with all unfavourable symptoms its always better to seek your physiotherapist or doctor to diagnosis sooner vs later, and to prevent long-term complications. There also some cases in which surgery may be required so early intervention and assessment is crucial.
Wrist pain and injuries typically tend to be non- life threatening in nature and respond very well to physiotherapy. For optimal pain relief and return to function your physiotherapist will complete a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause of the pain and concern. Wrist pain and disfunction can be caused by arthritis, wrist joint disfunction, wrist ligament injury, tendonitis, muscle injury. Then again, it can be caused by joint neck disfunction/pinched nerve rooting from the cervical spine. Localized nerve pain can be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or ulna nerve palsy both of which can result in loss of sensation, muscle power and function as well as permanent nerve damage. With an assessment, diagnosis and appropriate treatment most can quickly resume their daily activities, without pain and without permanently affecting function.
To prevent injuries related to falls be careful in wet and slippery areas. As they also occur during sports such as skiing, skateboarding, inline skating, and ice skating wearing wrist guards or protective tape is recommended. These interventions can keep your wrist from bending too far back if you fall.
What can you do if you have wrist pain?
The Physiotherapists at Pillars of Wellness have extensive training and expertise in assessing and treating wrist pain. They will complete a full assessment and provide you with a recommended treatment plan and course of action to facilitate treatment of your symptoms and underlying root cause.
How will my wrist pain be treated?
Treatments will vary depending on the concerns you present with as will as the diagnosis and root cause. At Pillars of Wellness your physiotherapist will always prescribe an at home exercise plan. These will be demonstrated and practiced during your private appointment and will be reviewed and modified as required.
Your program may also include:
- Modalities for pain management and relief through the use of TENS, ultrasound, acupuncture, heat, ice
- Massage to break up scar tissue and to promote soft tissue healing
- Exercise to stretch and strengthen
- Education to prevent and avoid future or recurrent injury as well as plan to improve functioning day to day
- Manual therapy to improve joint movement in the hand and wrist
How long does it take for a wrist injury to heal?
As with most injuries healing times vary based on both the injury and the individual. Average healing times vary between 2-10 weeks. Most important is to ensure you allow time for full healing prior to resuming regular activity.
When can I get back to my regular activity?
Its important to note that a return to activity prior to full healing can result in permanent injury, repeat injury and new injury. The following is a guideline regarding return to regular activity.
- When at rest, no pain in the wrist
- No pain when gripping
- When you injured wrist, hand and arm are as strong as the non-injured side
A wrist sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the wrist stretch beyond their limits or tear. This occurs when the wrist is bent or twisted forcefully, such as caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. Wrist sprains are common injuries. They can range from mild to severe, depending on how much damage there is to the ligaments.
Grade 1 (mild) = a ligament stretched beyond limit with no tear
Grade 2 (moderate) = partial tear of ligament(s)- may result in some loss of function
Grade 3= full tear across the thickness of the ligament(s), this can require surgery and can also take small piece of bone with it (avulsion fracture)
Symptoms may include tenderness to the touch, pain (especially with wrist movement), swelling, a warm feeling inside the wrist, popping/tearing feeling during a fall/activity.
It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms may not always be indicative of the severity of the injury. For example, one may have no swelling but have a tear that requires surgical intervention. Conversely, you can have a fracture that can feel like it is a mild sprain. Having a professional assessment by a physiotherapist or MD to assess your sprain is important to ensure appropriate early treatment and avoid potential long-term difficulties such as chronic pain, arthritis and stiffness. This is especially true if you are finding your injury does not heal as quickly as anticipated and or you are experiencing persistent and frequent pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can include pain in the wrist area as well as numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring fingers. Typically, the pain will worsen at night as well as during repetitive activities with bent fingers and or wrists. (often seen in keyboarding and those working with tools)
Carpal Tunnel is an injury caused by increased pressure in the carpal tunnel that compresses the median nerve as is moves through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. Most commonly, carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of repetitive movement or flexion of the fingers and or wrist. The movement causes swelling of the tendons that flex fingers and or wrist which cause compression and pressure on the median nerve.
Some woman suffers from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in pregnancy due to fluid retention increasing the pressure in the carpal tunnel and putting pressure on the median nerve.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (Tendonitis)
When the tendons are inflamed and painful at the base of the thumb it is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. The synovium (pully system for the tendon) is irritated and therefore it cannot glide resulting in a catching or snapping sensation.
On the thumb side of the wrist there may be swelling or cyst with fluid. Key indicators are pain when grasping and/or gripping objects, difficulty moving thumb and wrist, and pain when making a fist and or turning the wrist
There are two types of arthritis that can affect the joints in the wrist and fingers; osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both types cause inflammation and if left untreated can cause deformities of the joints hand and wrist. Your Pillars of Wellness Physiotherapist will provide you with individual treatment plans to help you improve the function, reduce inflammation and maintain/improve function and movement.
Gamekeeper’s thumb / Skier’s thumb
Gamekeeper’s or Skier’s Thumb is most commonly the result of a fall with an outstretched arm that causes injury to the ligament that attaches from the side of the index finger to the bones at the base of the thumb. This is the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb. In most cases the ligament detaches from where it joins the bone however in some cases it may tear. The thumb will be painful and weak when grasping or pinching and it is unstable. There may or may not be bruising and swelling at the thumb base.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSI can cause damage to the muscles, tendons, and nerves from repeated small traumas. Typically related to an occupation or task it can also be caused by leisure activities. RSI’s typically persist beyond the time that a strain would take to ease. The good news is that RSI’s typically respond well to treatment especially with early treatment and prevention. Left untreated, RSI’s run the risk of causing chronic pain syndrome.
Symptoms of RSI can include; tightness, dull ache, pain, throbbing, tingling, numbness with most symptoms developing gradually. Most often symptoms are during activity and then ease with rest or breaks. This will progress to always being present and worsening with repetitive task. Symptoms can range from severe to mild.