Which Doctor Should You Visit for Intense Wrist Pain?
A report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, states that hand and wrist injuries account for 11 to 20% of emergency room visits in the United States. These could range from wrist sprains and dislocations to carpal tunnel syndrome, mallet finger, or arthritis. Most of these injuries are work-related, or due to jobs that need the individual to be constantly at a computer.
If you are experiencing severe wrist pain, it could be any one of these reasons. The musculoskeletal and nervous system in the region is highly integrated. So finding the right cause is not always easy unless you consult a specialist. Knowing which doctor to consult is crucial to ensure that you get proper treatment. While your family physician may be your first point of contact, you may be referred to a specialist for further treatment.
The different specialists you may need to consult depending on your injury/pain is something we will explore here. This will help you determine which doctor is right for you. Thus, you’ll not lose any time in getting the right treatment at the right time.
What is a Wrist Specialist Called?
Depending on your specific injury or the extent of pain/damage, you may be referred to a rheumatologist (joint specialist) or an orthopedic doctor.
While arthritis and rheumatology-related wrist pain is referred to and treated by a rheumatologist, most hand and wrist injuries are often treated by orthopedic physicians or surgeons. There are orthopedic doctors and surgeons who make hand and wrist injuries their specific focus area. These specialists have a comprehensive knowledge of the network of blood vessels, bones, muscles, and ligaments that accompany the hand and wrist. They also have deep knowledge of tendons, muscles, and nerves that are a part of the hand, wrist, and fingers.
These specialists are skilled in determining the root cause of the pain. Post diagnosis, they create a treatment plan that’s dedicated to helping their patients live pain-free lives. When diagnosing diseases and providing treatment for injuries, these doctors rely on their knowledge and experience for a comprehensive evaluation and accurate diagnosis.
What are the Common Causes and Symptoms of Wrist Pain?
Wrist pain may be due to sudden injuries such as sprains or fractures. Other reasons include repetitive movements and long-term stress that causes chronic pain in the form of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Following are some of the most common causes of wrist pain:
- Fractures – Falling forward on the hand can cause sudden impact and damage to the wrist along with the hand and cause sprains, strains, or fractures. Repetitive stress can also cause stress fractures or stress injuries such as De Quervain’s disease.
- Tendon injuries – Tendon injuries such as extensor tendon tears or fractures are common causes of wrist injuries.
- Arthritis – Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most commonly occurring forms of arthritis that can also affect the wrist.
- Other diseases/conditions – Apart from the abovementioned potential causes, there are other diseases/conditions that can affect the wrist. These include carpal tunnel syndrome which is common in those who use computers for long durations. Another one is ganglion cysts, and Kienbock’s disease, which is a progressive disease affecting the wrist region when the blood supply to the region is reduced.
Injuries are common among those who actively participate in sports or heavy labor-related work. Others may be due to conditions such as obesity, and diabetes.
The symptoms of wrist pain are as varied as the causes. They can depend on the specific injury/condition, duration of the injury/pain, and the exact location of the pain.
Depending on the specificities of your condition, you may experience the following:
- Dull ache
- Pain during movement
- Tingling sensation
- Weakness in the region
- Pins and needles sensations
- Inability to move or use the wrist
Why Consult a Hand Specialist?
Orthopedic doctors and surgeons are highly proficient and well trained to provide an accurate prognosis in almost all conditions. However, those specializing in hand and wrist injuries and conditions, receive training that provides them with more in-depth knowledge on causes, treatment, and care for specific wrist issues. These doctors/surgeons undergo an additional rigorous two-year specialization. This gives them the added knowledge and training to deal with the complexities of the hand and wrist.
A small fall, a pull, or a minor injury may not need a visit to a hand and wrist specialist. They can be typically treated with ice, rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or basic medications such as ibuprofen.
However, if your pain and other symptoms do not subside in a day or two you should see a hand and wrist specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you notice the following symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention from a hand specialist.
- Your fingers become white when in cold areas.
- Pain in your hands at night or waking up with a strange feeling in your hands.
- Inability to make a fist.
- Pain in the thumb when opening doors and jars.
- Your pinky finger begins sticking out, which indicates a pinched nerve.
- You begin to drop things more often without any reason.
- Limited motion of fingers.
Wrist Pain Specialist in Advanced Pain Care
The pain care specialists at Advanced Pain Care will begin the consultation by asking questions about your injury/condition to understand the specificities. They will then conduct a physical examination to check for the following:
- Tenderness, swelling, bruising, or deformities
- Grip strength and forearm strength
- Range of motion
In case of suspected injuries or conditions, they will prescribe imaging tests or nerve tests or procedures such as arthroscopy to reach an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment will vary depending on the prognosis, the location, and the severity of the pain/symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe a splint or brace to keep your wrist immobilized while it recovers. Physical therapy sessions help regain range of motion, strength, and flexibility in your wrist after the initial inflammation has passed and in situations of a fracture after surgery.
Book an appointment online for expert treatment of wrist pain or call us to speak to one of our representatives. We have offices and service locations spread all across Texas. We have several centers serving the locations of Austin, Amarillo, and Waco/Killeen as well as advanced surgery centers in Round Rock, Austin, and Amarillo. You can contact us on our mainline 512-244-4272 (Austin Area) or check our website for center-specific contact details.
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Michael Albrecht, M.P. Aff, M.D., is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon. Dr. Albrecht has particular expertise in shoulder and knee conditions and is a Board Certified Orthopedic Sports Medicine Sub-specialist who is an advisor, consultant, and instructor… View Profile