Our wrist, hands and fingers play a large role in how well we function in our daily activities, such as: eating, dressing, operating equipment, writing, typing, texting, applying make-up, playing an instrument, or playing sports. When bones, joints and nerves of the wrist are injured or not performing well, Puget Sound Orthopaedics board certified hand specialists offer the most current wrist treatments to restore strength and sensation in the hand enabling you to once again perform everyday activities.
The human wrist is a complicated mix of three primary and multiple small joints making it more complex than the hip or knee joint. Two rows of eight (8) small bones (carpals) radiate from the joints of the larger ulna and radius (forearm bones). The ends of the bones are coated with cartilage that allows the joints to glide. Nine (9) flexor tendons travel through a “tunnel” created by the carpal bones. These tendons allow the fingers and thumb to bend.
In addition to joints, bones and tendons, the wrist houses three (3) nerves: the ulnar, radial and median. These nerves provide “power” to the muscles that control sensation and flexibility in the wrist, fingers and thumb. The median nerve supplies all forearm flexor muscles allowing the wrist and fingers to bend. This nerve can become compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, as condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Injuries to the Wrist
Wrist injuries can be quite painful and disabling. Without full sensation and movement in the joints, tendons and muscles, injuries can limit the ability to use your hands, thumb and fingers for many daily activities and functions. Typical injuries to the wrist include arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid), damage or compression to nerves, ligament sprains and fractures from falls.
When to See a Specialist
- Numbness, tingling, burning and pain primarily in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
- Occasional shock-like sensations that radiate to the thumb and index, middle and ring fingers
- Pain or tingling that may travel up the forearm toward the shoulder
- Chronic (intractable) wrist pain
- Weakness and clumsiness in the hand which may make it difficult to perform fine movements such as buttoning a shirt
- Dropping things due to weakness, numbness or a loss of awareness of where your hand is (proprioception)
Your doctor will discuss all treatment options with you. The best treatment for your injury or condition will be determined in combination with your overall health.
There are several nonoperative treatment options for wrist pain. These might include occupational hand therapy or pain management in the form of over-the-counter or prescribed medications and/or anti-inflammatories, injections and splinting. If surgery is necessary, PSO wrist specialists can perform a wide variety of procedures ranging from minimally invasive to major reconstruction.