Physical Therapy For Wrist Pain

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

Though small, our wrists help us accomplish many wonderful things every day. They are filled with many tiny bones, tendons, and muscles that allow them to function properly. However, once pain sets in our wrists, even accomplishing small tasks can seem nearly impossible.
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If you have wrist pain and are interested in seeing a wrist specialist in the Atlanta or Marietta, GA area, schedule an appointment at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. We offer a physical therapy program that can be very instrumental in alleviating your wrist pain.

Causes and Risk Factors For Wrist Pain

Due to the variety of ways that our wrists are used, wrist pain can also come in various forms. To adequately address your specific symptoms, a physical therapist must first discover the root cause of your pain. Some wrist-related conditions that cause pain can be found below:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when there is excessive pressure on the median nerve, causing it to become pressed or squeezed at your wrist. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in your fingers (typically thumb, index, or middle finger), wrist, hand, or forearm.
  • Fractures can occur and go undetected without immediate pain in one or more of the many bones we have in our wrists. If these fractures go undiagnosed for a while, it can lead to large amounts of discomfort or arthritis.
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is usually caused by repetitive motion and affects the mobility of your thumb. Pain is typically targeted to where your thumb meets your wrists.
  • Ganglion Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop over a joint or a tendon on the back or front of your wrist. They can be painful and reduce your joint mobility.
  • Arthritis can cause your joints to become swollen and inflamed. Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, both can cause you to feel pain in your wrists either occasionally or all the time.
  • Tendonitis can be caused by repetitive movements resulting in inflammation developing within your tendons.

 

How Can a Physical Therapist Diagnose Wrist Pain?

A physical therapist can diagnose your wrist pain by first completing a physical examination and asking you to complete a few range-of-motion exercises. Additionally, you may need x-rays or an MRI to show the extent of your injury. A proper diagnosis can make all the difference in your ability to treat and maintain your wrist’s functionality. 

How Can Physical Therapy Help Treat Wrist Pain?

Physical therapy can help treat wrist pain by improving the range of motion and strength of your hand, wrist, or fingers, while at the same time easing the pain. In many cases, it can also help you avoid the need for surgical treatment.

Your physical therapist will develop a treatment regimen specifically tailored to your needs and show you how to perform each exercise correctly. Some of these exercises may include:

  • Extension and Flexion—This is helpful for those who have carpal tunnel symptoms or arthritis. For this exercise, you will need a towel or another padded object to support your wrist. You will put the palm of your hand down on it. Next, you will lift your hand at the wrist until you feel a gentle stretch. Then, you will bring your wrist back to its original position and bend it down.
  • Thumb Flexion and Extension—This exercise can be beneficial for those diagnosed with de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Begin with your thumb positioned outward. Then, you will slowly fold it over the palm of your hand. You will want to hold this position and then release it.
  • Supination and Pronation—This exercise can be done while sitting or standing. First, you will hold your arm at your side with your elbow at a 90-degree angle and your hand facing palm up. Turn your wrist as far as it can go without causing discomfort, and then return it to the starting position, while keeping the elbow in the same position. Finally, you will repeat the same process, except this time, you will rotate your wrist in the other direction.

 

Additional Exercises Used to Treat Wrist Pain Include:

  • Ulnar/Radial Deviation
  • Tendon or Nerve Glide
  • Fist Clenching
  • Tennis Ball or Putty Squeezing

 

Each of these exercises can be repeated 10 times or as needed.  

Although wrist pain can be debilitating, it doesn’t have to last forever. Physical therapy is a feasible treatment option that can minimize the need for surgery. 

Contact our hand and wrist specialists at either one of our Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow offices in Atlanta or Marietta, GA today! We look forward to helping you return to a pain-free way of living!

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Randall Alexander, MD