What's wrong with my wrist?
June 22, 2008 3:28 PM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my wrist?

My left wrist hurts, badly, when more than a few pounds of pressure are applied either forward or backward--hyper-flexion in the palmar/volar and dorsal directions. I don't think it's a sprain or a break, because there's no swelling or bruising visible, and I have full range of movement. Similarly, I don't think it's tendonitis because the pain is from pushing, not movement. I can go all day without pain or any special carefulness, and then accidentally lever myself up from sitting and have that horribly painful jolt. Examples of now-impossibly-painful activities: the down position in a push-up, propping my head with my hand.

[Probably irrelevant personal narrative: Several months ago, I tripped while running and landed on my hands. They were badly scraped up, but I was otherwise fine. Since they've healed, there's been a growing 'twinge' in that left wrist. Last month I engaged in lots of heavy lifting while moving and since then that hand has been pretty much useless. Yet despite the fact that I've avoided using it, it doesn't seem to want to get better.]

What's wrong? And, while we're at it, what's the treatment?
posted by anotherpanacea to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the pain responsive to OTC anti-inflammatories?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:03 PM on June 22, 2008

Broken scaphoid, perhaps. Your fall is the classic way to fracture one.
posted by jamaro at 4:09 PM on June 22, 2008

Response by poster: it's an acute pain, not chronic, so I haven't tried anti-inflamatories. To make matters worse, I'm alergic to NSAIDs.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:07 PM on June 22, 2008

If the pain is on the thumb side, look into deQuervain's tendonitis. I have a very severe case, and it came on suddenly -- from "huh, my wrist feels funny" early in the week, to "huh, my wrist kinda hurts" a few evenings later, to "oh my god, I'm in the worst pain of my life, get me to an emergency room" at 4 AM the next day.

If that sounds right, get a referral for an orthopedic surgeon, and he'll probably give you steroids, and hopefully that'll be the end of it. (Wasn't for me, but that's a long story.)
posted by liet at 6:13 PM on June 22, 2008

Best answer: I'm sorry to be the one to say it, since I love self-diagnosing, but wrists are crazy freaking complicated and they are also critical to maintaining your quality of life. Only doctors have the tools to look inside them. Go see a doctor.
posted by mindsound at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2008

I had similar pain happen, and asked a question about it. I assumed it was tendinitis from a repetitive stress injury, but turns out that it was an occult ganglion cyst. My doctor said I could undergo surgery, but ganglion cysts usually come back, even with surgery, so I opted out. I just wear a wrist brace every night while I sleep, and after a few months of doing that, I have no wrist pain at all. I still wear the brace, even though the pain stopped.

IANAD, though, so see yours! Have 'em do an MRI if needed, to fully diagnose what's going on.
posted by bedhead at 11:02 PM on June 22, 2008

I'm glad I looked at your question, and at jamaro's answer. I have a similar injury in my right wrist - fell hard with most of my weight on the palm of my hand in a silly and embarrassing way in front of a lot of people, thought I sprained it. Now, save for the fact that the injury was more recent, my symptoms are almost exactly like yours. Feels fine most of the time, unless I try to lift myself up with it, or do something that exerts twisting pressure on the thumb side of the wrist, like turning a key. The other morning I was washing dishes and the pain of holding up a plate in my right hand was wretched.
I took it for granted that it was a sprain healing normally, but I'm going to make an appointment now to check for a broken scaphoid, because apparently it can turn into some nasty business if left untreated - possible nonunion or deformation of the bone, arthritis, bone grafts - ouch. I'm going to the doctor, and I would recommend that you do the same.

I hope that neither one of us broke that little scaphoid.

*high five* *OW!*
posted by louche mustachio at 2:55 AM on June 23, 2008

Response by poster: Looking at the scaphoid break symptoms, I don't see much that corresponds with my pain. I don't have any of this:

Pain and tenderness on the thumb side of the wrist.
Motion (gripping) may be painful.
May be some swelling on back and thumb side of wrist.
Pain may subside, then return as a deep, dull aching.
Marked tenderness to pressure on the "anatomical snuffbox," a triangular-shaped area on the side of the hand between two tendons that lead to the thumb.

louche mustachio, your problem sounds like mine, except I don't have the pain from twisting.

Sigh... I hate going to the doctor, but it looks like that's the only solution.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:10 AM on June 23, 2008

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