If you’re experiencing wrist or elbow pain or discomfort, you might be experiencing a few different types of ailments and conditions. Upper extremity pain is quite common, due mostly to the fact that we use them constantly. Because of such overuse, in combination with a lack of care and/or recovery techniques, pain occurs frequently.
Pain and discomfort in the upper extremities, and more specifically the wrist and elbow, can also be a side effect of a sports-related injury. Because of the high intensity at which such competition occurs, several types of injuries resulting in pain can happen. Whether a fall, collision, or compromised twist of a joint, the result is discomfort.
Lastly, pain in the wrist or elbow can be a byproduct of a medical condition, such as tendonitis, arthritis, gout, or neuropathy.
In any case, wrist and elbow pain can be quite a nuisance and sometimes even debilitating. Therefore, if you’re concerned for any reason, it’s important to consult with your doctor if symptoms persist in order to identify potential conditions, and thus, begin the speedy recovery process.
In what follows, we’ll be discussing several of the most common wrist and elbow conditions that cause pain and discomfort. This information can help to identify problems and start on a path towards healing.
Common Wrist & Elbow Issues
The wrist and elbow can have several conditions that lead to pain and discomfort.
Below are the most common wrist and elbow issues:
• Ganglion Cyst
• Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Tear
• Elbow Bursitis
• Wrist Fracture
• Elbow Fracture
• Tennis Elbow
• Carpal Tunnel
Following your symptoms and listening to your body are the best ways to mitigate further pain and begin the healing process as fast as possible. If you’re uncertain as to what is causing the symptoms, it’s imperative to consult a medical professional.
These benign, non-cancerous bumps or lumps apparent on the surface of the skin covering the wrist can cause pain and discomfort to the affected area. They are believed to be caused by synovial (joint) fluid leaking from the joint. Most often, these lesions are painless. They can sometimes resolve on their own, but if not, they can be treated with surgical excision.
The reason for pain associated with these cysts is due to inflammation and impingement of surrounding tendons and ligaments and sensory nerves. They can cause significant pain, which can possibly be improved by surgery. It’s best to consult with your physician or hand specialist to find out the best course of action for treatment.
If you’ve ever heard of Tommy John Surgery, it refers to a surgery of the elbow that repairs the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). This injury most commonly occurs in athletes that overuse their arm, typically from a repetitive throwing motion (i.e., baseball pitchers and quarterbacks). The UCL is located on the inner aspect of the elbow connecting the upper arm to the forearm. UCL tears are not only a severe injury that requires surgical intervention, but it’s also a vulnerable injury for infection and other complications.
Within the anatomy of the elbow rests a sac of fluid with the primary purpose of protecting the elbow joint. This sac is otherwise known as a “bursa”. If this sac becomes compromised from impact or repetitive motion, swelling and inflammation can occur in this area leading to pain and discomfort.
Wrist and Elbow Fractures
A fracture of any kind is simply another way of stating a ‘break’ has occurred along the bone. The most common wrist fracture is a fracture of the end of the radius known as a Colle’s fracture. It’s most often seen in adolescents, and this kind of fracture can sometimes involve the growth plate.
The most common elbow fracture is a fracture of the olecranon, which is the bone that includes the tip of the elbow. It’s the easiest bone in the elbow to fracture because of its vulnerability to direct impact.
If you’re experiencing pain on the outer aspect of your elbow and you use your arm in a repetitive movement regularly, whether as an occupation or in sport, you’re likely experiencing symptoms of tennis elbow. Injuries like these are typically less severe and can be treated with rest, recovery, and physical therapy.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A common condition for those who use their hands consistently, carpal tunnel syndrome, occurs when the nerves running through the carpal tunnel passage at the wrist level are impinged due to narrowing of the space within.
If you’re experiencing feelings of odd sensation in the fingers and tingling in the thumb, it may be an indication of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Arthritis is a common cause for many injuries and symptoms, and it happens to be a common condition seen in the wrist and elbow. Arthritis often occurs due to previous injuries, overuse, or an underlying medical condition.
Neuropathy, which is defined as the damage or dysfunction of the nerve, is a painful condition causing significant discomfort and numbness. It is often related to other chronic conditions and can be quite difficult to treat effectively. Consultation with a medical professional will be the best course of action.
Wrist and elbow pain can greatly reduce one’s quality of life, especially if the pain and discomfort continue to persist.
The earlier you seek evaluation for your symptoms, the sooner a condition can be identified, and treatment can be implemented as soon as possible. This will lead to the fastest recovery possible.