How is ulnar wrist pain diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose ulnar wrist pain based on your medical history and results of a physical exam. Some of the questions your doctor may ask include:

  • Do you have any medical conditions that might contribute to your wrist pain, such as gout, diabetes or history of infections?
  • Have you had any previous wrist injuries?
  • Did the wrist pain come on suddenly or has the pain been present for a long period of time (days, weeks or longer)?
  • Did a specific event occur that directly resulted in the wrist pain?
  • How severe is the pain?
  • Does your work or hobbies require repetitive wrist motion?

Your doctor will feel your wrist and area around it and make note of any swelling, redness, masses, scars, tenderness and any other signs of deformity. He or she will also perform several wrist movement tests to check range of motion, strength, and source of pain to help make the diagnosis.

Imaging tests will also be ordered. Imaging tests may include:

  • X-rays to show the relationship between bones in the arm and wrist to identify fractures, arthritis, deformities, signs of infection or tumors.
  • Computed tomography (CT) to reveal subtle fractures, fracture healing, abnormal alignment of bones, assess ligaments for tears, check artery blood flow for blockages.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check for abnormal growths and soft-tissue injuries (tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves).
  • Ultrasound to identify foreign bodies in the wrist area, tendon ruptures, tendinitis, compressed nerves, check blood flow, assess abnormal growths.
  • Wrist arthrography uses a radiopaque fluid injected into the joint to enhance view of the joint structures before performing many of the above imaging studies.

How is ulnar wrist pain managed or treated?

Treatment for ulnar wrist pain depends on the cause. Standard treatments to relieve pain include:

  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen or ibuprofen or newer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or steroid injections to ease pain
  • Changing your hand’s position during repetitive motions (ergonomic adjustment)
  • Physical therapy (exercises to mobilize, strengthen tendons and ligaments in the wrist)
  • Casting or splinting to rest the wrist
  • Surgery to remove a growth or other cause of nerve compression, repair tendon or ligament tears, fix fractures or treat arthritis through open or arthroscopic surgery including forms of joint replacement

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