The wrist connects the hand to the forearm, consisting of the two bones of the forearm, the radius and ulna, and eight small carpal bones. This arrangement allows for a great range of movement including bending, straightening, lateral movement, and rotation. This region is relatively fragile, as it is possible to injure any of these bones with the application of force or stress. Fracture is a common wrist injury involving swelling, pain, and possibly crookedness or deformation with a severe break. Fractures are evaluated by x-rays or other internal scans. Treatment consists of immobilization while the bones set, and may require stabilization with pins or screws. Repetitive stress is another condition affecting the wrist. This occurs during activities like typing, sports or other uses involving repetitive motions. The carpal tunnel, a tube of nerves and tendons passing through the wrist, can become thickened and inflamed by repetitive stress. Tendinitis, sprains and strain are other common injuries to the connective tissues. Wrist pain may also result from medical conditions such as osteoporosis, which decreases bone density increasing the risk of fracture. Arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, involves swelling of joints from various causes and may increase with age.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Wrist