Why does my wrist hurt when twisting it but there’s no swelling?

Your wrist is moved dozens of times a day without you even noticing. Whether you’re opening a door, typing on a keyboard or cleaning your dishes, your wrist’s mobility is essential for day-to-day tasks. When your wrist hurts, it can make you want to just rest your arm for the day until it feels better.

Not all wrist damage looks and feels the same. If you feel pain when you twist, bend or apply pressure to your wrist, but there’s no swelling, you might scratch your head when trying to think about the cause. There are a few explanations, ranging from inflammation to injuries. Even if your wrist isn’t swollen, wrist pain during movement shouldn’t be dismissed.

We’ll talk about the possible causes of your wrist pain that occurs when it’s twisted, even if there isn’t any apparent swelling. Then we’ll talk about different treatment options worth exploring that can alleviate the ache and get your wrist back to its regular movement.

Possible reasons that your wrist hurts when it’s twisted but it’s not swollen

Since we can randomly experience short bouts of pain from things like a headache in a loud room or stubbing a toe on a table leg, it’s easy to brush off the ache. Many people don’t worry about pain unless there’s physical signs of an issue, such as swelling or bruising.

Persistent or worsening wrist pain during movement could indicate an injury or medical condition, even if there’s no swelling. Here are a few possible causes of wrist pain when it’s twisted but it’s not swollen:

  • Sprain — In your wrist, there are ligaments that support the joint’s movement. When a ligament becomes overstretched or torn, it’s called a sprain. A sprain occurs when the wrist is put into an unnatural position due to an injury or a fall. It can cause pain and reduced range of motion. It’s important to note that swelling is a possible symptom of a wrist sprain, but if the swelling is mild and not as easy to recognize, then one of the important ligaments may be damaged and require surgery.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome — The most common type of nerve entrapment, meaning the nerves have become compressed, is carpal tunnel syndrome. It affects up to 5% of the general population and affects the hand, wrist and arm. It means that the median nerve that runs through the wrist has become compressed or pinched. It can cause wrist pain, weakness, and a “pins-and-needles” sensation.
  • Arthritis — While there are many types of arthritis that can develop in the wrist, it’s often the location of rheumatoid arthritis. RA is an inflammatory disease that causes your immune system to fight healthy cells, including the lining of your joints. Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist include pain, stiffness and tenderness. While it can cause swelling, the beginning stages of RA may not involve any swelling.
  • Fractures — When one of your bones is broken, it’s known as a fracture. In the wrist, it’s possible to fracture one of the bones in the wrist joint as well as the distal radius, which is the bone at the end of your forearm that’s near the wrist. It’s possible to have a partial or complete wrist fracture when it has sustained trauma, such as during a sports game or while trying to break a fall by putting your arm out. Along with pain during movement, you’ll likely experience numbness or tingling in the fingers and reduced mobility.

What to do when your wrist hurts when it’s twisted but it’s not swollen

Twisting or bending your wrist is essential for many small tasks throughout the day, which is why it’s important to be as proactive as possible before the symptoms worsen. There are several treatments that can help alleviate the pain and improve your wrist’s mobility so that it can move without causing pain. 

Many treatment options for wrist pain can be done on your own from the comfort of your house, while others require the input and assistance of health care professionals, such as a physician or physical therapist.

Here are some options if your wrist isn’t swollen, but it’s still causing pain when you twist, bend or apply pressure to it: 

  • Hot and cold therapy — Applying ice is a tried-and-true method. Cold therapy can help numb your wrist to reduce pain and inflammation. Alternating the ice pack with a hot compress can also help. Heat can relax the affected tissue to boost circulation and speed up recovery. Hot and cold therapy can be utilized to help pain at home and between physical therapy sessions.
  • Splint — Another good way to reduce your wrist pain is by reducing the strain put on it throughout the day. A splint can help keep the affected muscles, bones and joints in place to reduce the pain during movement as well as speed up the recovery process if the pain stems from an injury. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for splint recommendations.
  • Electrical stimulation — There are many modalities that your physical therapist may use to reduce your pain, including electrical stimulation. It involves sending mild electrical currents to the affected muscles or nerves to reduce the pain signals that are sent to the brain and relaxing the tense tissue through muscle spasms. It may be used if it’s been determined that arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome is the likely issue.
  • Manual therapy — One of the most effective courses of action for soft tissue wrist pain is manual therapy, which means that your physical therapist uses their hands to reduce the pain and improve the range of motion in your wrist. Depending on the cause of the pain, they may use manual therapy techniques like soft tissue mobilization or joint mobilization to alleviate the pain in the tissue and improve the joint’s mobility.
  • Targeted exercises — Your physical therapist will guide you through safe and effective exercises intended to reduce your wrist pain while improving the overall quality of the area to reduce the risk of further issues. They will show you exercises to strengthen the muscles for joint support and grip. You’ll also learn stretches that will gradually restore your range of motion.

Continuum Wellness can treat your wrist pain

At Continuum Wellness, our licensed physical therapists can help determine the likely issue of your wrist pain. We’ll carry out a physical evaluation to examine your symptoms as well as test the area’s strength, flexibility and overall function. Then we’ll design a personalized treatment plan for your particular needs.

It’s important to not ignore persistent or worsening wrist pain, even when the wrist doesn’t appear to be swollen. With everything from targeted exercises to manual therapy, our physical therapists can work with you to help you return to your daily activities without an ache in your wrist with every movement.

Call us or request an appointment today to treat your wrist pain.

For more information, Contact Us Today.

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