How Do I Treat Pain in the Wrist and Hand?

Nicole Long
Nicole Long
Icing the area may help relieve wrist pain.
Icing the area may help relieve wrist pain.

Pain in the wrist and hand can occur for any number of reasons, and the treatment often depends on the source of the pain. Treatments for pain in the wrist and hand include rest, ice, medications, and therapy. In some cases, treatment may involve surgery to relieve the pain.

There are some common causes of pain in the wrist and hand. Broken or fractured bones, damaged ligament or tendons, and arthritis are just a few of the common causes of pain in the region. Other cause of pain in the wrist and hand include conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and ganglion cysts.

A wrist brace may be used to prevent further injury to the wrist.
A wrist brace may be used to prevent further injury to the wrist.

Rest is often the first recommendation to help ease pain. This entails keeping the hand and wrist area in a secure position, often with the help of a splint or compression bandage. The duration of rest will coincide with the severity of the injury and pain.

Icing the injured area can help provide pain relief as well. Ice helps reduce the inflammation and swelling associated with the injury or disease. This reduction in swelling and inflammation will help ease the pain and will also numb the area in general to further alleviate pain and discomfort. Icing should be done in 20 minute intervals with a towel placed between the ice and skin to prevent injury to the delicate skin.

Treatment for wrist and hand pain can depend on the cause, such as arthritis.
Treatment for wrist and hand pain can depend on the cause, such as arthritis.

Various medications can help relieve pain in the wrist and hand. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. This can include over-the-counter products such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen or prescription pain relief medication. For severe pain associated with arthritic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, anti-inflammatory medication may be injected into the joint area to help relieve pain.

A bone fracture may be the cause of wrist pain.
A bone fracture may be the cause of wrist pain.

Therapy may prove beneficial to some patients coping with acute or chronic wrist and hand pain. This can include occupational therapy to teach new ways of completing common tasks to help alleviate pain during activity. Physical therapy may be necessary to rebuild strength and limit future pain for those recovering from surgical procedures related to the hand and wrist area.

A sling may be used to immobilize the painful wrist and hand, allowing them to heal.
A sling may be used to immobilize the painful wrist and hand, allowing them to heal.

Surgery may be recommended as a treatment option for those with various hand and wrist injuries or conditions. This can include broken bones or damaged tendons and ligaments. Other conditions which may require surgery include carpal tunnel syndrome and ganglion cysts. Once surgery is complete, some of the same pain relief measures will be suggested during the recovery phase.

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Discussion Comments

SarahGen

I had wrist and hand pain from typing a few months ago. I had to wear a wrist splint to prevent it from moving for several weeks. I also had to use topical creams and rest as much as possible. Rest seemed to be the most effective in terms of treatment.

bluedolphin

@donasmrs-- I think that you really need to get to the bottom of it before trying treatments. It could be something serious and you don't want to waste time with ice packs. See your doctor again and tell him that the pain hasn't gone away. Or see a specialist.

There are so many different possible causes of wrist and hand pain. There might not be an injury visible in an x-ray, but there could be some inflammation due to wrong movements or repeated movements. Or it could be arthritis. The treatment will depend on what's causing the pain.

Use ice packs and pain relievers right now if you have to but don't delay seeing a doctor.

donasmrs

I've been suffering from wrist and hand pain on and off for a few months now. I still don't know what's causing it. I did see a doctor who took an x-ray and did not find an injury.

Has anyone experienced something like this? What can I do to relieve the pain? Ice helps but I can't use it all the time, especially when I'm at work. What other treatments should I try?

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    • Icing the area may help relieve wrist pain.
      Icing the area may help relieve wrist pain.
    • A wrist brace may be used to prevent further injury to the wrist.
      A wrist brace may be used to prevent further injury to the wrist.
    • Treatment for wrist and hand pain can depend on the cause, such as arthritis.
      Treatment for wrist and hand pain can depend on the cause, such as arthritis.
    • A bone fracture may be the cause of wrist pain.
      A bone fracture may be the cause of wrist pain.
    • A sling may be used to immobilize the painful wrist and hand, allowing them to heal.
      A sling may be used to immobilize the painful wrist and hand, allowing them to heal.
    • Typing on a keyboard can be hard on the wrists, possibly aggravating carpal tunnel problems.
      Typing on a keyboard can be hard on the wrists, possibly aggravating carpal tunnel problems.
    • Prescription pain killers can reduce the inflammation that causes wrist and hand pain.
      Prescription pain killers can reduce the inflammation that causes wrist and hand pain.
    • Ganglion cysts tend to appear on the wrists and ankles and can cause pain in those joints.
      Ganglion cysts tend to appear on the wrists and ankles and can cause pain in those joints.
    • A bandage will usually go hand-in-hand with rest for wrist pain, depending on the severity of the injury.
      A bandage will usually go hand-in-hand with rest for wrist pain, depending on the severity of the injury.
    • Various medications can help relieve pain in the wrist and hand.
      Various medications can help relieve pain in the wrist and hand.