You don’t want to wait too long for medical care for wrist pain. Without treatment, the underlying injury only worsens, your pain increases, and you face a longer recovery and possibly permanent nerve damage.
At Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C., Gregory M. Stanley, MD, MBA, FAAOS, specializes in treating the many possible causes of wrist pain. He offers these guidelines to help you know when to seek medical attention.
Signs you should not ignore
Though wrist pain alone can stop you from your daily activities, the condition affecting your wrist can also affect your hand and fingers.
The nerves, blood vessels, and tendons responsible for hand and finger movement go through your wrist. As a result, symptoms in your hand and fingers often signal you need medical attention for your wrist.
Get immediate medical care when you have:
- Swelling, redness, or bruising in your wrist or hand
- Pale or discolored hand or fingers
- Numbness in your hand and/or fingers
- Tingling in your hand and/or fingers
- Difficulty moving your hand and/or fingers
- Difficulty moving your wrist
- Hand weakness (difficulty gripping or holding things)
- Pain that stops you from using your hand
- Signs of an infection
Signs of an infection include a fever over 100ºF and redness, warmth, and tenderness in your wrist.
It’s time to schedule an appointment when:
- Your symptoms don’t improve in one week
- Your wrist pain worsens
- Your wrist hurts when resting
- Your pain returns or increases during daily activities
Accurate diagnosis and treatment prevent long-term wrist problems such as arthritis and chronic pain.
Conditions needing immediate care
There are too many pain-causing wrist conditions to discuss them all here. And any of them could need prompt care, depending on the severity of the problem and your symptoms.
However, we want to highlight three wrist conditions that always need immediate care: fractures, sprains, and rheumatoid arthritis.
There’s usually little doubt about having a broken wrist because you have an injury (like a fall) followed by pain, swelling, and bruising. You may also notice that your wrist is bent or deformed.
Fractures need immediate care for two reasons. We need to realign and immobilize the bones to ensure they heal properly.
We also need to determine nerve damage during the injury. With care, we can prevent permanent nerve damage.
You could have mild symptoms (minimal pain and swelling) after spraining your wrist and still have a torn ligament. Additionally, what you think is a wrist sprain could easily be a fracture.
Let us examine your wrist so we can diagnose the underlying injury, evaluate the severity of the problem, and recommend the best treatment.
Prompt care for a ligament injury may help you avoid surgery. Or you may have a severe tear that needs surgical repair to ensure you regain full strength and prevent future problems.
Rheumatoid arthritis frequently develops in the wrist. This type of arthritis is an inflammatory disease caused by an overactive immune system that attacks tissues in the joints.
Without treatment, the chronic inflammation erodes the bones in your wrist joints. It can also affect the tendons that move your fingers, possibly leading to a tendon tear.
The top symptoms include wrist stiffness, swelling, redness, pain, and difficulty grasping objects.
It’s essential to seek treatment once you suspect you have rheumatoid arthritis because we can prescribe advanced medicines that stop the inflammation and prevent bone damage.
If you’re unsure whether your wrist pain needs medical care, call Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C. in Hood River or The Dalles, Oregon. We can ask a few questions, quickly learn your key symptoms, and help you decide when to schedule an appointment.