Why Is My Wrist Bone Sticking Out?

by | Jun 30, 2024

Wonder why is your wrist bone sticking out? It’s a carpal boss. Like your work boss, it can be annoying. However, it’s usually harmless and doesn’t need treatment. Most people can live with it if it doesn’t cause symptoms.

Why Does My Wrist Bone Stick Out and Hurt?

Conditions like osteoarthritis can damage the cartilage in your joints. Hence, your bones rub together and form bone spurs. In the wrist, this can show up as a bossing. There is no single or specific reason for it. However, the related causes include:

  • Atypical Bone Formation: If your wrist bones didn’t form correctly at birth, you can have a carpal boss.
  • Arthritic Conditions: Conditions like osteoarthritis can damage joint cartilage. This causes bones to rub together and form bone spurs. In the wrist, this can appear as a bossing.
  • Overuse: Repetitive heavy use of your wrist can irritate the joint bones and cartilage. Therefore, overuse is a major cause of bossing.
  • Injuries: Wrist sprains, broken bones in the hand and wrist, and other injuries can cause the development of a carpal boss.

Symptoms of Carpal Boss

An apparent sign of a carpal boss is a hard lump on the back of your wrist. It can occur on one wrist or both. It can appear as a wrist bone sticking out. Usually, there are no other symptoms. But sometimes, the bump can become painful when you touch it or move your wrist.

Some people also feel painful snapping of tendons near the bony lump when they move. These symptoms link to other conditions like bursitis, osteoarthritis, or tendon damage, according to researchers.

Carpal Boss Diagnosis

Your doctor will check your wrist. They will also inquire about your symptoms. They also require some history, such as when the bump first appeared. You must tell them if certain movements affect you.  During the examination, your doctor will move your wrist in different ways to check its flexibility. They might also feel the lump to understand its texture. To diagnose a carpal boss and rule out other common wrist problems like ganglion cysts, tendonitis, or fractures, your doctor can request:

  • X-rays of your wrist.
  • Ultrasound imaging.
  • CT scan (computed tomography).
  • MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging).
  • EMG test (electromyography).

How to Treat a Wrist Bone That’s Sticking Out?

Carpal boss doesn’t need treatment if it doesn’t cause symptoms. However, if you have pain or tenderness that interferes with your daily activities. The following are some available options:

Nonsurgical Treatment

If you need treatment, your doctor will likely suggest starting with nonsurgical options such as:

    • Wearing a splint or bandage to keep your wrist still.
    • Taking over-the-counter pain medication, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
    • Icing the affected area.
    • Injecting a corticosteroid into the lump.


Your doctor can remove the bump surgically. This is a simple outpatient procedure that usually takes less than an hour. You will receive local, regional, or general anesthesia before your doctor makes a small cut on the back of your hand. They will then use surgical tools to remove the bump through this incision.

After surgery, you can usually start using your hand within a week and return to your normal activities in two to six weeks. Some people might need a second procedure called carpometacarpal arthrodesis post-surgery. This involves removing damaged bone and cartilage to stabilize the wrist. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might recommend this procedure instead of just removing the carpal boss.

Wrapping Up

When you feel your wrist bone sticking out, now you know who to blame for it. It’s the carpal boss condition that happens due to unknown reasons. However, if the pain worsens, don’t shy away from visiting a hand surgeon.

Visit Dr. Luo at Randy Y. Luo, MD, MBA. Our board-certified hand and upper extremity specialist has presented at national conferences and written peer-reviewed articles on orthopedic and hand surgery. To book an appointment, dial:

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