Why Does The Outside Of My Wrist Hurt?

by | Apr 30, 2024

Your wrist is your partner in performing daily tasks. It is crucial for many hand movements, such as lifting, exercising, and cooking. Pain on the side where your pinkie finger is can happen often, but figuring out why can be tricky.

This can make you question, “Why does the outside of my wrist hurt?” The wrist’s anatomy is complex; pain can come from various injuries to bones, cartilage, ligaments, or tendons. Pain on the pinky side of the wrist is also called Ulnar wrist pain.

Causes of Ulnar Wrist Pain

There are multiple causes behind ulnar wrist pain. Some common ones include:

  • Arthritis: Swelling and stiffness in the wrist joint, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or arthritis from crystal deposits like gout or pseudo-gout.
  • Fractures: Broken wrist or hand bones or old fractures involving specific wrist bones.
  • Nerve Injuries: Damage or pressure on nerves in the wrist, arm, or neck, irritating the ulnar nerve.
  • Overuse: Damage to tendons and ligaments from repetitive hand and arm motions or injuries.
  • TFCC Injury: Tears or fraying in wrist tissues connecting the ulna to other parts, often from falls or repetitive twisting.
  • Ulnar Impaction Syndrome: Cartilage and ligament wear due to extra pressure when the ulna is longer than the other forearm bone.
  • Growths: Noncancerous masses like ganglion cysts.
  • Ulnar Artery Thrombosis: Blood clot in the ulnar artery.
  • Kienbock’s Disease: Loss of blood supply leading to bone death in the lunate bone.
  • Infection: Resulting from prior injuries or underlying conditions lowering resistance to infections.

Why Does the Outside of My Wrist Hurt: Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine your wrist for swelling, tenderness, and other signs of injury or deformity. They will also test your wrist’s movement, strength, and pain source. Furthermore, they can consider running the following tests:

  • X-rays: Used to check for fractures, arthritis, infections, or tumors in the bones.
  • CT Scan: Provides detailed images to identify fractures, bone alignment, ligament tears, and blood flow in the arteries.
  • MRI: Detects soft tissue injuries, abnormal growths, and tendon or ligament issues.
  • Ultrasound: This procedure identifies foreign objects, tendon problems, nerve compression, and abnormal growths while assessing blood flow.
  • Wrist Arthrography: Involves injecting a contrast fluid into the joint to improve visibility in other imaging tests.

Ulnar Wrist Pain Treatment

Treatment for outer wrist pain depends on its diagnosis. However, some general treatments are:

  • Medication: Take anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen or ibuprofen or receive steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Ergonomic Adjustment: Making changes to hand position during repetitive activities to reduce strain on the wrist.
  • Physical Therapy: Engaging in exercises to improve wrist mobility, strength, and flexibility.
  • Immobilization: Using casting or splinting to rest the wrist and promote healing.
  • Surgery: Surgical procedures may be necessary to address underlying issues such as nerve compression, tendon or ligament tears, fractures, or arthritis. This could involve removing growths, repairing tears, or performing joint replacement surgeries through traditional or arthroscopic methods.

Bottom Line

If you often question,” Why does the outside of my wrist hurt?” You must consult your doctor. If the pain intensifies and meddles with your daily life, wakes you up from sleep, or causes swelling, it is time to seek a proper diagnosis.

Visit Dr. Luo at M.D., MBA. Our distinguished orthopedic surgeon has years of experience and specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery. Call us at (713) 794-3307 to secure an appointment.

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