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Wrist pain

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My left has been hurting for 3 weeks. I am not able to bend it forward or backwards. I am not able to put any weight on it such as holding a plate of food without having pain. I purchased an Ace bandage a week ago, but the pain hasn't gone away or improved. Any ideas on what may be wrong?
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replied June 19th, 2011
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rosebud,

Unfortunately, without an examination it is impossible to tell you exactly what is going on. The wrist is a very complex structure. It consists of the articulations of the two forearm bones, eight carpal bones, and five metacarpals. It has innumerable ligaments, both intrinsic and extrinsic. There is a cartilage disc at the end of the ulna, which acts much like a mensicus in the knee. Several tendons run across both the palmar and dorsal aspects of the wrist.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of things that can go wrong in the wrist. You do not describe any trauma, but, you could have any of the numerous inflammatory conditions. Overuse syndromes are very common about the wrist, as are degenerative changes. Nerve entrapments can show up as pain, but they usually also have numbness and tingling.


You might try a small wrist brace for comfort. But, you should take it off occasionally and do range of motion exercises. You do not want to get a stiff wrist. If you can take the antiinflammatories, they may help. You have to take them regularly, rather than just as needed, for them to work on an established process. Moist heat is often soothing, whereas ice is usually used for acute pain.

If the discomfort does not resolve or you develop other symptoms, you might want to see a physician about it.

Good luck.
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replied June 19th, 2011
It started hurting after I had a bad fall water skiing. I broke my left wrist 16 years ago. The pain is in the area that I broke and continues across the top part of my wrist and hand. I don't have any swelling or redness, just dull to sharp pains. Occasionally, I have numbness in my thumb.
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replied June 19th, 2011
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rosebud,

Since you have had a significant injury to the joint in the past, you are at increased risk for developing a traumatic arthritis. Anytime someone breaks into a joint, no matter how it is treated, the incidence of degenerative changes due to the trauma go way up.

This may not show up for several years after the index injury. You have probably now reached a point that the joint can no longer tolerate the everyday stress applied to it. When a joint reaches this point, it does not take much to cause significant problems.

Unfortunately, with so many bones that make up the wrists, to say that you had a wrist fracture does not provide much information. Distal radius fractures react much differently than scaphoid fractures. Each has their own pattern of degenerative processes.

Also, arthritic processes within the joint can set up problems with the surrounding soft tissue. It can become a vicious cycle.

You should probably see a hand surgeon for an evaluation and possible x-rays. There are treatments out there that can address the problems you are now having.

Good luck.
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replied June 20th, 2011
Thanks for you reply. I saw an orthopedic doctor today. My diagnosis is TFCC. I have to wear a splint 24/7 for 6 weeks to see if it will heal on it's own. I am limited to 5 pounds lifting and very little of that. He prescribed me anitinflammitories to help. After the 6 weeks, if no progession, I will be sent for an MRI. Then a possible cast or surgery. I hope it heals on it's own.
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replied June 21st, 2011
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rosebud,

Thanks for telling us what was going on. The TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex) is a cartilage disc that sits on the end of the ulna. It acts like the meniscus in the knee and is subject to the same trauma and degenerative processes.

Treatment depends upon the type of tear. Peripheral tears, where there is a blood supply, can heal on their own. Degenerative tears in the center, tend not to heal.

Hopefully, this treatment will decrease your pain.

Good luck.
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replied June 28th, 2011
Well it has been a week of wearing a splint on my wrist/hand. No improvements. Actually the pain is continuous. I am not able to lift more than 5 pounds, per the doctor's orders and i can't walk with my hand swinging at my side without it throbbing. I just hold it up to my chest, above my heart. I will keep you posted as the weeks progress.
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replied June 28th, 2011
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rosebud,

It can take quite a while for a TFCC tear to heal, several weeks at least. It is also very common for the hand/wrist to throb when it is held in a dependent position (below the heart).

We used to advise all the hand patients to hold their hand on the opposite shoulder or even on top of their head. Except is rare cases, we did not give hand patients slings, because that put the hand in a position below the heart. And after surgery or injury, we wanted them to have the hand elevated. It became known as the hand team salute, with all the patients walking around the hospital with their hands on their heads. Other times they just kept the hand up on pillows, back of the couch, elbow on the table with hand in the air, etc.


Hopefully, immobilizing the wrist will give the TFCC a chance to heal. Don't put the splint on too tightly, just enough to be comfortable. It is not holding any bones in place, just putting the wrist at rest.

Keep us informed as to how you are doing. Good luck.
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replied July 10th, 2011
Well here is the latest. There is no change in the pain of my left wrist. I am supposed to see the doctor in 4 weeks, but I have been dealing with this for about a month and a half. At first I was wearing a cheap wrist brace (Ace) for a couple weeks and now I have a splint on for 3 weeks and there isn't any improvement. I don't know if I should try to get into the doctor sooner to start the next step. I have a high pain tolerance, but this is driving me crazy. I had to buy a large bottle of Advil for the pain, and it isn't really helping. Any adice on what I should do at this point? I don't have the splint on too tight but I am still able to move my wrist a little.
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