Chiropractic care to keep you fit, active and healthy


My wrist hurts when I move it

| By Dr Debbie Tan (Chiropractor)


Wrist pain is a common symptom from injury and repetitive use.1 The wrist itself comprises of 8 small bones called the carpals. The carpals are surrounded by ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.2 It is highly sensitive area as it connects to the hand which allows us to grip, have dexterity and fine touch. The wrist is particular important for movements such as carrying, typing, knitting, chopping, and especially when it comes to sports – push ups, weight lifting, racquet sports etc.

Most common people that get wrist pain are usually in two categories – the very active (sports athletes, highly active individuals) or the non-active (sedentary individuals, seniors, office workers).  The very active wrist pain usually derived from certain movements that put pressure on the joint, particularly when playing sports.3 This includes push ups, hand stands, lifting weights, hitting with racquets.3,4 For the non-active, it is more likely due to repetitive strain or sudden movement that it isn’t used to (e.g. Spring cleaning, carrying boxes, cooking, holding a kettle etc.).3 Wrist pain can also occur due to trauma and disease.3,5

There are a few mechanisms for injury – nerve, muscle, ligament, joint and bone derived.

Nerve pain

Commonly we hear of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This happens the median nerve irritated along its passage through the carpal tunnel and into the wrist. This may give rise to numbness, tingling, pain, weakness or clumsiness in their hands.6 There are also other nerves that can elicit pain as well, however not so common.

Muscle and tendon pain
Most times, due to repetitive stress, the muscles and ligaments may be pulled or strained. This may cause the thickening of the tendons in the wrist, resulting in pain and/or weakness in the wrist. Especially felt more so on movement and no pain when it is still. 3

Bone and joint pain
Osteoarthritis may occur in the wrist when the cartilage that provides cushioning for the joint degenerates over time. This condition is uncommon in the wrist, and usually occurs in people who have injured their wrist previously.7 In addition, rheumatoid arthritis can also cause wrist pain when the immune system in a person’s body attacks the person’s own tissues. Injuries and high energy trauma to the wrist can also cause dislocation and fractures of the wrist, leading to wrist pain.8

The wrist joint can be strengthened with daily exercises and stretches specific to your condition given by an allied health professional. A chiropractor may prescribe certain stretching exercises that may help with your wrist pain. Massage, chiropractic mobilization and manipulation and application of ice of heat may can also help with wrist pain.9 The joint can also be stabilised using taping, bandages or splints as a temporary relieve. 3,10

For more information on wrist pain, please contact your allied health professional.

  1. Rettig AC. Athletic Injuries of the Wrist and Hand: Part II: Overuse Injuries of the Wrist and Traumatic Injuries to the Hand. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(1):262-73. doi:10.1177/0363546503261422
  2. Moore DC, Crisco JJ, Trafton TG, Leventhal EL. A digital database of wrist bone anatomy and carpal kinematics. J Biomech. 2007;40(11):2537-42. doi:
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. Diseases and conditions: Wrist pain [article on the Internet]. Mayo Clinic; 2014 [2016 Aug 2]. Available from:
  4. Kox LS, Kuijer, P Paul F M, Kerkhoffs, Gino M M J, Maas M, Frings-Dresen MHW. Prevalence, incidence and risk factors for overuse injuries of the wrist in young athletes: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(18):1189-96. doi:
  5. Vedelago J, Dick E, Walker M, Alavi A, Khanna M, Gedroyc W. Dorsal wrist pain and swelling post trauma. Skeletal Radiol 2013 09;42(9):1295-31. doi:
  6. Palmer K. Pain in the forearm, wrist and hand. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2003;17(1):113-35. doi:10.1016/S1521-6942(02)00100-6
  7. Mayo Clinic Staff. Diseases and conditions: Wrist pain [article on the Internet]. Mayo Clinic; 2014 [2016 Aug 6]. Available from:
  8. Israel D, Delclaux S, André A, Apredoaei C, Rongières M, Bonnevialle P, et al. Peri-lunate dislocation and fracture-dislocation of the wrist: Retrospective evaluation of 65 cases. Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2016;102(3):351-5. doi:10.1016/j.otsr.2016.01.004
  9. Hulbert JR, Osterbauer P, Davis PT, Printon R, Goessl C, Strom N. Chiropractic treatment of hand and wrist pain in older people: systematic protocol development Part 2: cohort natural-history treatment trial. J Chiropr Med. 2007;6(1):32-41. doi:10.1016/j.jcme.2007.02.011
  10. Porretto-Loehrke A. Taping techniques for the wrist. J Hand Ther. 2016;29(2):213-6. doi:

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should contact your own physician or other qualified health can provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on information from this content. Relying on information provided by this content is done at your own risk. Although the authors have made every effort to provide the most up-to-date evidence-based health information, this content should not necessarily be considered the standard of care and may not reflect individual practices in other geographic locations.

Share this blog post: