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Swollen Wrist: Causes and Treatment Measures

Aastha Dogra Oct 4, 2018
Swollen wrist, most of the time, results from injury. But it may have other severe causes too. Let us read about this symptom elaborately from this write up.
Our wrists are made up of a number of tiny bones, ligaments and muscles. This makes them quite delicate and prone to injury, especially if rigorous activities are carried out in excess. Besides over usage, there are a number of other reasons too which might cause wrist problems, resulting in pain and swelling.

Swelling in Wrist - Why?


Any wrist injury due to some sort of accident or increased pressure on the wrist bones, can cause a bone fracture or a tear in the wrist ligaments and muscles. All these conditions can produce swelling in the wrist, accompanied by a severe pain. Overusing the wrist or picking up heavy things can affect the wrist joint too, resulting in inflammation and pain.

Wrist Tendonitis

Wrist swelling could be due to a condition known as wrist tendonitis, in which the tendons of the wrist get irritated. There are a number of reasons for that, such as, repetitive actions done using the wrist without proper breaks in between, or keeping the wrist in a wrong position, while sleeping or working on the computer.


Another cause is a disease called arthritis, which affects elderly. Swelling and pain caused as a result of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis is easily recognized as it usually starts from the base of the thumb and then spreads to the other parts of the hand, including the wrists. There might be redness in the affected area and it may feel hot to touch.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This condition, whose main symptoms are swelling, pain, numbness and tingling in the wrist, develops when the "median nerve" in the wrist gets compressed. In some cases, the pain may go as far as the elbow. This condition is often found in pregnant as well as menopausal women.
People with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid problems, are more prone to this condition. Sometimes, injury caused by repetitive movements, may lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as well, resulting in wrist swelling and other associated symptoms.

Measures You Can Take

The best method to reduce the swelling is application of ice or ice packs on the affected area. The cool temperature of the ice helps in slowing down the inflammation and thus, eases the resultant pain.

✔ Resting the wrist and not undertaking any kind of strenuous activity, till the swelling and pain subsides, helps in speeding up the healing process too.
The next step that should be taken for the treatment of swollen wrists is to consult a doctor so that proper examination can be done and the possible cause of swelling can be ascertained. For this, X-rays are usually done. X-rays help to identify if the swelling is due to some damage or non-alignment of the bones.
Sometimes MRI scans are also conducted to identify the real cause of the swollen wrists. Once the exact cause of the inflammation of the wrists is found out, the doctors prescribe medicines and remedies accordingly.
If it is due to a fracture or non-alignment of the bones, the doctors put a cast around the wrists. If there is severe pain, the doctors may prescribe some pain killers such as ibuprofen, to ease out the pain.
If the swelling and pain is due to some other causes such as arthritis or a swelling in the wrist muscles, doctors recommend certain precautionary measures, such as giving rest to the wrist and not picking up heavy things with the affected wrist, or they may also recommend the usage of a compression bandage to lessen the symptoms.
Massages also help in soothing the area and bringing down the pain. Keeping the wrist elevated also helps.
Besides these, in order to keep your wrist flexible and to avoid any injuries or inflammations in the future, it is recommended that you go in for a physical therapy. Certain exercises, if done in consultation with a physical therapist, will help in preventing such mishaps in the future.
In the end, it is recommended that in case the swelling in wrist is so severe that you are unable to move your hand or if there is a fever and a rash present, it is best to go to a doctor immediately, rather than trying to treat this condition at home.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.