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Stiff Wrist

Common Causes of Wrist Stiffness

Stiff wrist and sore wrist conditions can occur as a result of several underlying causes. The wrist is one of the most complicated joints structures in the body, with eight bones in each wrist, as well as multiple ligaments and tendons, all of which may result in stiffness and soreness when injured or traumatized.

Causes of sore or stiff wrist may include sprains and fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, intersection syndrome, ganglion, and arthritis.

Many sprains and fractures involve injury to the cartilage that provides smooth movement between the wrist structures. Although the sprain or fracture may appear to have been successfully treated at the time of injury, cartilage damage may not reveal itself until months of even years afterward. When the cartilage on the joint surface becomes pitted or otherwise misshapen as a result of trauma, friction occurs during movement, which can continue to abrade the joint surface, causing writ soreness and discomfort. Scar tissue may also form, which also increases friction causing further wear to the joint surface.

Over time the injured cartilage will continue to degenerate and break down, resulting in the development of arthritis and concomitant wrist stiffness and soreness. In severe, painful cases of wrist arthritis, wrist fusion surgery may be required. Some wrist trauma can also cause cartilage to become torn, creating flaps that cause wrist pain during movement.

Intersection syndrome occurs when repetitive motion from activities such as weightlifting, raking, rowing, racket sports, and skiing. In this condition, the smooth and slippery tissue covering the tendons, called the synovium, becomes inflamed and swollen, causing friction when the wrist is moved.

Carpal Tunnel syndrome is another repetitive motion injury which occurs most frequently in office workers and others who use constant, repetitive motion of the hand and wrist muscles. Overuse can cause the primary nerve running from the hand to the forearm to become compressed or squeezed, resulting in wrist pain, as well as wrist stiffness.

The development of a ganglion, a harmless cyst, in the wrist may also cause wrist soreness. The exact causes of ganglia are not known, but they occur most frequently in tissue that has been repeatedly injured over time.

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