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When Should I See a Chiropractor About Wrist Pain?

By Martha Michael

Wrist Pain

Whether your hands are made for sinking free throws or painting the nursery, you need the joints in your wrists ready to perform for you. Activities that involve repetitive movements or those that place undue pressure on your wrists can cause painful problems that hinder your ability to work and play. Hand model or handyman, your appendages play an important role in productive living, and visits to a chiropractor can help you minimize the effects of wrist pain.

What Causes Wrist Pain?

From the temporary setbacks of injuries to a long-term condition such as arthritis, wrist pain can be debilitating, particularly if it involves your dominant hand. It’s easy to think that professional athletes and people who work with their hands are the only ones at risk of wrist injury. Anyone can strain the muscles and tendons in their wrist or hand, even through domestic duties.

A common culprit today involves Americans’ heavy reliance on technology. When we think of screen time we typically think the biggest causes of health concerns involve the eyes or brain. Since the information age ushered in a lifestyle of typing on computer keyboards, there was a meteoric rise in the use of the wrist, hand, and fingers. This brought with it the risk of overuse, which can lead to painful symptoms, according to an article by Kaiser Permanente.

That’s been compounded by the prevalence of smartphone use.

“Hand or wrist pain used to be from typing on keyboards, but now it’s from using cell phones,” says Neil Harness, MD, an orthopedic doctor and hand surgeon at Kaiser Permanente. “We see people come in all the time with hand problems like texting thumb.”

“Texting thumb” occurs when the tendons that power your thumb become inflamed. If you experience pain on the underside of the thumb it may be a condition called “trigger thumb,” but if the swelling in your thumb radiates to affect the side of your wrist, you may be diagnosed with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

How Is Wrist Pain Related to Other Conditions?

There are several connections to wrist pain. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Lateral Epicondylitis

Patients with lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, sometimes complain of wrist pain along with more common symptoms such as aching and burning from the forearm to the elbow, according to an article by the Mayo Clinic. When tendons are overworked from repetitive use, it affects the muscles connecting your forearm to the outside bump on your elbow.

Tennis players are prone to the condition, but people with a variety of hobbies and occupations can develop symptoms through repetitive arm movements. Painters, plumbers, carpenters, and butchers are a few of the professions at risk of muscular damage to the wrist and elbow areas.

If you’re suffering from tennis elbow you may experience difficulty when you:

  • Grip objects
  • Shake hands
  • Turn the doorknob
  • Hold a glass or cup

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Pain in the wrist, forearm, and fingers are common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, according to an article on the Johns Hopkins website. The carpal tunnel is a channel in your wrist made up of carpal bones on the bottom and the transverse carpal ligament at the top of the wrist. It encases the median nerve and, when the nerve is compressed, it causes numbness in the wrist and hand because it’s responsible for the sensory and motor function of your three middle fingers and thumb.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common condition, though women are three times more likely than men to develop CTS.

Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Weakness

A surprising connection point is that pregnancy can trigger carpal tunnel syndrome, which is typically short-term, but other causes are hard to identify. There are certain factors that make it more likely you’ll develop carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Family history of CTS
  • Bone disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Repetitive hand movements
  • Wrist injury
  • Metabolic or hormonal changes

Treatment Options

The length and effectiveness of the healing process for wrist pain depends on the treatment program you choose. Surgeries can cause scar tissue, which may mean you’re battling chronic bouts of pain. Prevention is a good way to minimize the chance you’ll need invasive medical care in the future.

An article by Penn Medicine suggests home care options to minimize wrist pain:

Be aware - Household duties that involve small, repetitive movements can cause wrist pain from overuse. Gardening or other yard work sometimes leads to problems brought on by inflammation such as trigger finger or ulnar neuropathy; the same is true for cleaning, making repairs, or doing upgrades such as painting or wallpapering.

Placement of keyboards - If you have a home office, be sure your computer is situated correctly. Your arms should not be tilted upward when you type. Lower the computer if necessary so your hands are typing at a 90-degree angle from your body.

Take breaks - One of the problems with high volume computer output is the relentless use of fingers and hands. Be sure you don’t rack up too much time on a computer keyboard without giving your limbs a rest. Let your hands rest on their sides, not applying pressure to your wrists.

Supportive device - Over-the-counter wrist splints can provide you with the support you need to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or another long-term problem. Depending on when you experience the most pain, you can wear one at night or just when tackling repetitive home projects.

Chiropractic Care for Wrist Pain

Finding balance by reducing physical stress to your wrists will go a long way toward preventing problems needing treatment. A routine of chiropractic care is also a best bet in maintaining strength to fend off injury. With a baseline of your overall wellness, your chiropractor can tell if there are changes to your muscles and joints.

In the event you experience an injury or the onset of arthritis, chiropractic treatment reduces pain and addresses the cause of the problem. Regular adjustments contribute to spine health, improving your range of motion and making tasks easier to execute. Less strenuous work for your joints means less chance of injury.

Whether you’re into manicured hands or manicuring your yard, keeping your wrists pain-free enables you to keep a busy schedule. Prevention is possible by making necessary changes to achieve balance. It’s like insurance for your hands -- keeping your nail appointment and a regular visit to the chiropractor keeps your wrists and hands picture perfect and ready for action.

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