How is arthritis for wrist pain treated?

There is no cure for arthritis, and both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may get worse over time. Options to relieve wrist pain include:

  • Exercise. Your doctor or a therapist can tell you about exercises that will help your wrist, and when to do them.
  • “Activity modification,” which means you stop doing the things that hurt the most, or do them less often, or do them differently.
  • Use of heat, ice, and splints on the affected joints
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, including common over-the-counter pain relievers (such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Injections of the hormone cortisone can help, but the effects may not last, and you’ll have to wait several months before you can get another injection.
  • Surgery can be done if arthritis progresses to the point that other methods don’t help with the pain, or if the joint becomes deformed and can’t be used effectively. Surgery can be very effective for relieving pain. Sometimes the surgery involves a trade-off – less motion, less pain.
  • Many of the treatments for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, but rheumatoid arthritis also requires medicine that slows the advance of the disease. These medications are called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
  • Gout is treated with drugs to reduce swelling and pain when you’re having an attack, and by changing your diet and lifestyle to reduce the frequency of attacks.

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated with exercise, ice, splints, and over-the-counter pain medications. If working at a keyboard is making the pain worse, taking breaks or adjusting the position of the keyboard might help.

In an operation called a carpal tunnel release, the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel is released to create more room for the median nerve. This is outpatient surgery, meaning you will not have to stay in the hospital overnight. Full recovery can take months.

How are wrist injuries treated?

Wrists are often injured when a person falls and extends his or her hands to break the fall. Broken bones are a common result, but ligaments can be sprained.

Treatment involves ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, and use of a splint to immobilize the wrist (keep it from moving). Surgery might be necessary if a ligament is torn, a fracture is complex, or repeated sprains lead to chronic (long-term) instability.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/07/2017.


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