Manage or prevent ulnar wrist pain by learning what it is, its causes and risk factors, how it is diagnosed, and its treatment options.
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In this article:
- What Is Ulnar Wrist Pain?
- When Is It Ulnar Wrist Pain?
- Who Are at Risk for Ulnar Wrist Pain?
- How Is Ulnar Wrist Pain Diagnosed?
- What Are the Treatment Options for Ulnar Wrist Pain?
Everything You Need to Know About Ulnar Sided Wrist Pain
What Is Ulnar Wrist Pain?
Our wrists are the joint where the forearms connect to the hand. Going a little deeper into the anatomy of the wrists, there are eight smaller bones which link the five main bones of the hands (metacarpals) to the forearm bones (ulna and radius).
Pain on the pinky finger sides of the hands is very common. This pain arises at the connection of the ulnar wrist bone of the hand.
When Is It Ulnar Wrist Pain?
Ulnar wrist pain can be either felt while at rest or when the area is moved. This pain is a common sign of a number of injuries and medical conditions.
The common signs and symptoms are:
- Localized pain on the outside of the wrist or at the pinky finger side of the wrist/hand
- Clicking or popping sound in the wrist partnered with sharp pain with movement
- Weakened grip, associated with pain
- Loss of mobility at the wrist particularly when rotating the forearm and with lateral motions of the wrist towards the pinky finger side
Who Are at Risk for Ulnar Wrist Pain?
There are many different medical conditions and injuries which can cause ulnar wrist pain. The following are both causes and risk factors to ulnar risk pain:
- Arthritis – Inflammation, swelling, and stiffness of the wrist joint can cause this discomfort. This includes rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or arthritis caused by joint crystal deposits from gout or pseudogout.
- Fractures – This includes broken hand or wrist bones or the aftermath of old fractures on the ulnar styloid, pisiform bones, or hook of the hamate.
- Nerve Compression or Injuries – Pressure on or damage to the nerves in the wrist, neck, or higher in the arm can irritate the ulnar nerve.
- Growth – Masses like ganglion cysts can result in ulnar wrist pain.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries – Repeated hand and arm movements from daily work activities can damage the tendons and ligaments.
- Ulnar Impaction Syndrome – When the ulna is longer than the other forearm bone, there can be an extra pressure which can result to wear and tear of the ligaments and cartilage.
- Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Injury – TFFC happens when the tissue connecting the ulna to the other parts of the wrists form tears or frays. This can be caused by falling onto the wrist, multiple repetitive twisting injuries, or from an abnormal length of the ulna compared with the radius of the forearm.
- Ulnar Artery Thrombosis – A blood clot in the ulnar artery can result in this condition.
- Kienbock’s Disease – This is the death of the lunate bone on the ulnar side of the wrist due to loss of blood supply.
How Is Ulnar Wrist Pain Diagnosed?
To diagnose ulnar wrist pain, a doctor will check your medical history and perform a couple of physical exams. He or she may ask the following questions:
- Have you had any prior wrist injuries?
- How severe is the pain?
- Do you have any medical conditions like gout, diabetes, or infection history that might contribute to the wrist pain?
- Did the pain occur suddenly or has it been present for a long duration already?
- Was it caused by a specific event?
- Do your hobbies or job need you to perform repetitive wrist movements?
The doctor will conduct a physical exam on the area to check and make note of any redness, swelling, tenderness, scars, and any other anomalies. Then, several wrist movement tests will also be done to check your strength, range of motion, and the source of the pain.
You’ll undergo imaging tests if necessary, too. These may include:
- X-ray – to check for fractures, deformities, arthritis, and signs of infection
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – used to check for abnormal growths and injuries in the tendons, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels
- Computed Tomography (CT) – can show subtle fractures, abnormal bone alignment, and fracture healing, and check for arterial blocks and ligaments tears
- Ultrasound – can identify tendon ruptures, tendonitis, compressed nerves, and foreign bodies in the wrist area. It can also check abnormal growths and blood flow.
- Wrist Arthrography – a radiopaque fluid is injected into the joint to improve the view of the imaging studies mentioned above
What Are the Treatment Options for Ulnar Wrist Pain?
The treatment for this condition depends on the underlying cause. There are, however, standard treatments you can do to manage and relieve the pain.
- Prescribed intake of anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or injectable steroids
- The practice of ergonomic adjustment by changing the hand’s position during repetitive movements
- Casts or splints to stabilize the wrist
- Surgery to remove growths or other causes of nerve compression or repair tendon or ligament tears, fix fractures, and treat arthritis
- Physical therapy to mobilize the wrist by strengthening the tendons and ligaments
- Simple exercises to help with aching wrists:
1. Wrist Flexes and Extensions
Place the forearm on a table with a cloth padding under the wrist. Turn your arm to bring your hand face down.
Move your hand up to feel a gentle stretch. Bring it back to the original position and repeat.
2. Wrist Deviation
With the thumb facing up, place the forearm on a table, hand hanging off, padding under the wrist. Move your hand up and down like you’re waving.
3. Wrist Supination and Pronation
Stand with the elbows bent at 90° and the arm out to the side. Rotate the forearm bring the hand to face up, then turn it the other side bringing it down.
Learn more about ulnar wrist pain in this video from Mayo Clinic:
If the pain becomes really painful and debilitating, visit your doctor right away to prevent it from getting worse. Maintain overall health with the help of Dr. Seeds naturally formulated body supplements.
Do you have any questions about ulnar wrist pain? Let us know in the comments section below!