If you have wrist pain, self care can help prevent further injury and long-term problems. Although many people are concerned about developing carpal tunnel syndrome, many other conditions, including tendonitis and ligament injuries, can cause pain in the wrist.
Use the self care tips and exercises on this page for basic wrist care. As appropriate, consult a healthcare professional for a diagnosis and treatment. You can also ask a massage therapist to help you deal with underlying muscle tension that might be contributing to the pain or to provide injury massage.
Wrist Care Tips
If you work at a computer, here are some suggestions for your computer set-up to help reduce wrist pain and avoid further injury.
Place your keyboard at a height so that your wrists are straight and level when you type, and never bent back. If the height of your desk or table is not adjustable to a position where your wrists are straight, another option is to place the keyboard in your lap.
When you type or use a mouse, do NOT rest your wrists on anything, and do NOT bend them up, down, or to the sides. Relax your hands just above the keyboard and keep your middle knuckle in alignment with the center of your wrist.
Use your arms to move your hands, rather than resting your wrists on the desk or a pad and reaching with your fingers to type. To use the function keys, move your hand instead of reaching your fingers for the keys. Although you may have to get used to this approach, it can help prevent wrist pain and injury.
Keep all your fingers and your thumb in a soft curve when you are typing. Notice if you keep your little finger raised or stiff. If so, consciously let the finger relax it to avoid injury.
Use a light touch on the keys and avoid pounding.
Hold the mouse lightly, avoiding a hard grip. When you stop typing, rest your hands in your lap or let your arms hang by your sides. Also, you can shake out your hands to renew the energy flowing through them.
Set a reminder chime on your computer or some other reminder to take frequent stretching breaks. At a minimum, gently bend your wrists forward and backward and circle them in both directions. Another good exercise is to make tight fists and then let them relax; repeat 10-20 times.
Wrist exercises can help keep your wrists mobile and strong. The forearm muscles that move the wrists are called wrist extensors and flexors. To flex your wrist, hold your hand with palm down and point the fingers downward. To extend your wrist, pull your hand back.
The following exercises are for generally healthy wrists that may be feeling a little stiff or weak. If you have specific wrist problems, consult a healthcare or exercise professional to adapt exercises to your specific needs.
Range of motion:
Start with active range of motion
exercises, simply extending and flexing your wrist and moving it from
side to side. Another option is to move your wrists in circles or figure
To stretch your wrists:
Extend one arm in front of you with the palm down and the elbow straight.
Use your other hand to press on the back of the hand and bend it down (flexion). Release.
Extend the wrist by pressing the fingers in a backward direction. Release.
Note: In general, hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat each one three times. Be gentle to avoid overstretching that causes the muscles to become tighter.
To strengthen your wrists:
Using a light weight, move your wrist in the same motion as in the extension and flexion stretches. Start with only a few ounces and over time gradually add weight. If you feel wrist pain, use less weight.