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Learn more about the symptoms you are experiencing, then make an appointment with one of our doctors to discover the best plan of action to resolve your injury or pain.
Conditions you may be experiencing:
Ganglion of Wrist (Wrist Cyst)
A ganglion is a small cyst, or fluid-filled sac, that can develop on the hand or wrist of the patient. While ganglion cysts most often form around the top of the wrist, they can also develop on the palm side of the wrist, at the base of the fingers along the palm, and at the top of the finger joints. These cysts often take the appearance of small balloons, and are filled with a thick slippery fluid that is not unlike the fluid that lubricates the joints. Ganglion cysts can vary in size, often growing larger with increased wrist activity. With rest, the lump typically grows smaller, often disappearing all together.
Ganglion cysts are not cancerous, and in most instances are fairly harmless. However, depending on the size and location of the cysts, they can often be painful for the patient or can interfere with the natural function of the wrist or fingers. In these cases, treatment is advised.
The underlying causes of ganglion cysts remain unknown, though they may be linked to repetitive stress or irritation of the affected joints. One theory suggests that the cysts are formed when connected tissue degenerates or is otherwise damaged. The damaged tissue forms a weak spot in the joint capsule, allowing the joint’s natural lubricating fluid to escape and collect in a cyst outside of the joint.
Ganglion cysts of the wrist can occur at any age, though the condition appears to be more common among teenagers and young adults. Ganglion cysts also appear to be more common among athletes, in particular gymnasts, who repeatedly apply stress to the wrist joint. Ganglion cysts that develop at the finger joints are often related to arthritis of the finger joint, and are more common in women over the age of 40.
The most common symptoms associated with ganglion cysts of the wrist include:
• Lump that grows on top of wrist or on underside of wrist between thumb, at end point of a finger, or at base of a finger
• Lump grows out of a joint and is filled with thick, slippery, fluid
• Cyst may be painful, especially if it remains hidden under skin
• Cyst becomes larger with increased wrist activity
• Can occur anywhere, but are common at the palm side and back side of the wrist
Wrist Arthritis (Joint Pain and Inflammation)
The wrist is the connecting joint between the forearm and the hand. It is formed by the two bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna) and the carpal bones located at the base of the hand. The joint ends of these bones are covered with a slippery substance known as articular cartilage. This cartilage acts as a cushion for the joint, protecting the bones and allowing them to glide smoothly over each other when the wrist is moving.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint that causes damage to the cartilage that protects the joint ends of the bones. As the condition progresses the cartilage in the joint slowly breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. This can lead to pain and stiffness in the affected area and over time can result in irreparable damage to the joint.
While there are many different types of arthritis, three forms of the disease most commonly affect the wrist joints.
• Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear to the cartilage of the wrist joint. As the cartilage wears away, the protective cushion between the bones is lost allowing the bones of the joint to rub against each other. This results in pain and stiffness in the affected joint. While osteoarthritis can occur in younger patients, it is more commonly found in middle aged adults. Patients with a family history of arthritis may be more prone to develop osteoarthritis as they enter their 40s or 50s.
• Rheumatoid Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple joints in the body. The body’s immune system begins to attack its own tissues, resulting in damage to cartilage and ligaments. The condition typically begins to manifest in the smaller joints of the hand and the wrist, causing deformity and loss of function. The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis remain unknown, though recent research suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition of the disease.
• Post Traumatic Arthritis – Post traumatic arthritis can sometimes develop as the result of a specific injury, such as a broken wrist or a torn ligament. Joint injuries can cause an unusual wearing of the cartilage, which over time can develop into post traumatic arthritis.
While the wrist can be affected by different types of arthritis, symptoms of the condition tend to follow a familiar pattern:
• Swelling in wrist
• Limited motion
• Weakness in wrist joint
• Potential pain, swelling and stiffness in knuckle joints of hand
The forearm consists of two bones, the radius and the ulna. The radius is the larger of the two, connecting to the bones of the hand at the thumb side of the wrist. This is known as the ‘distal end’ of the radius. A fractured wrist is the result of the distal end of the radius bone being broken. This is generally referred to as a broken or fractured wrist, though medical professionals call it a ‘distal radius fracture’. Distal radius fractures are relatively common, with the radius being the most frequently broken bone in the arm.
There are five different classifications of radius fractures, each with its own distinct characteristics and methods for treatment.
Colles’ fracture: a fracture that leaves the broken end of the radius tilting upwards
Intra-articular fracture: a fracture that extends into the wrist joint
Extra-articular fracture: a fractures that does not extend into the wrist joint
Comminuted fracture: in which the radius bone is fractured in more than two places
Open fracture: a fractured bone that breaks the skin
The most common cause of a fractured wrist is falling onto an outstretched arm. This is particularly true for older patients who may suffer from osteoporosis or a thinning of the bones. In these cases even a minor fall, or other accident, can be enough to fracture the radius bone. A fractured wrist can also be the result of injuries sustained in a car crash or motorcycle accident. Athletes are often at a greater risk for wrist fractures, particularly if they are involved in rigorous contact sports such as football, soccer, or mixed martial arts.
A fractured wrist presents with a number of easily recognizable symptoms, including:
• Injury related pain and swelling
• Pain when touching the injured area
Wrist Sprain (Stretched or Torn Wrist Ligament)
Ligaments are the strong bands of tissue that connect one bone to another. A sprain is an injury to one or more of these ligaments. The wrist contains a large number of ligaments which can be stretched or torn, resulting in a sprain. This type of injury typically occurs when the wrist is bent forcefully, or awkwardly, as with a fall onto an outstretched hand. A sprained wrist is a fairly common injury, particularly among athletes and active adults.
Wrist sprains are graded according to severity, depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments.
Grade 1 – this is a mild sprain, where the ligaments are stretched but not torn
Grade 2 – this is a moderate sprain, in which the ligaments are stretched and partially torn. A grade 2 sprain may result in some loss of function to the wrist and hand
Grade 3 – this is the most severe type of sprain, and is a significant injury that may require surgery. With a grade 3 sprain the ligament is completely torn. In some cases, as the ligament is torn away from the bone it may take a chip of that bone with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.
A sprained wrist is most commonly the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand. However, wrist sprains can also be the result of force being placed on the wrist and hand (as might occur when bracing one’s self against a dashboard in an automobile accident), or from a direct blow to the joint. Athletes are often at a greater risk for wrist sprains, especially baseball and basketball players, gymnasts, skiers, and skateboarders.
The symptoms most commonly associated with a sprained wrist include:
• Swelling in wrist
• Pain at time of injury
• Persistent pain when wrist is moved
• Bruising or discoloration of skin around the wrist
• Tenderness at injury site
• A feeling of popping or tearing inside the wrist
• A warm or feverish feeling to the skin around the wrist