Pain or discomfort located on the small-finger side of the wrist is commonly categorized as ulnar wrist pain. It is named after a bone in the forearm, the ulna, which runs from the elbow down to the wrist bones. There are many mechanisms or causes of ulnar wrist pain. Injuries may occur suddenly, as with a sprain or a fracture, or gradually, with repetitive motions of the wrist. Symptoms frequently worsen with heavy grip, leaning on the hand or twisting of the wrist. 

 

Causes

  • Overuse: Inflammation of the tendons that bend and straighten the wrist. 
  • Fractures: Broken wrist, hand or forearm bones. Occasionally old fractures result in changed alignment at the wrist, leading to discomfort. 
  • Nerve injuries: Irritation of the ulnar nerve along the “pinky” side of your hand, wrist and arm.
  • Triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injury: The TFCC connects the ulna bone to other bones in your wrist, providing stability. It may tear with a traumatic injury or fray over time. These injuries are often associated with falling on an outstretched hand or with a twisting force, such as swinging a bat or racquet. 
  • Ulnar impaction syndrome: Ulnar impaction syndrome occurs when the ulna bone is longer than the radius bone (the other bone in your forearm), which can cause it to repeatedly push against the smaller wrist bones. 
  • Ganglion Cysts: Benign, noncancerous lumps on either the front or back of the wrist.
  • Arthritis: Causing swelling or stiffness in the wrist joints. 

Symptoms (you may have any or all of these)

  • Pain on the small-finger side of the wrist
  • Swelling
  • Clicking or popping during wrist motion with associated pain
  • Decreased strength with gripping or lifting
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Inability to tolerate weight-bearing through the palm
  • Limited motion at the wrist
  • Limited ability to turn the forearm from palm-up to palm-down position

Why See a Hand Therapist?

Certified Hand Therapists (CHT) at Armworks Hand Therapy have a specialized certification to treat complex wrist injuries. A custom splint, made to be a perfect fit for you, may be necessary to immobilize healing structures and protect you as you return to function. Your hand therapist, who is either a physical or occupational therapist specializing in hand therapy, will assist you in adapting your daily tasks to allow your wrist to heal appropriately. Your hand therapist will work with you to develop a home exercise program to strengthen specific muscles to suit your goals and lifestyle.

If you are experiencing any or all the above symptoms, schedule an evaluation with one of our Certified Hand Therapists at Armworks. We have clinic locations in Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham and NE Portland to best serve you and your therapy needs.