What causes left wrist pain

Wrist pain

Wrist pain: causes

Wrist pain can have a number of causes. They often occur after an accident - for example after falling on the hand while exercising. In other cases, it is often due to inflammation or joint wear and tear.

Injuries as a cause of wrist pain

Injuries (e.g. during exercise or from a fall) often lead to pain in the wrist. This includes, for example, broken bones in the area of ​​the wrist as well as ligament and disc injuries.

Broken bone

Falling on the hand can break the spoke near the wrist. The wrist pain that occurs with such a "wrist fracture" (distal radius fracture) is particularly noticeable when turning the hand outward or turning the forearm. In addition, the wrist can swell, become immobile and show a visible misalignment.

A fall on the hand can also cause a wrist bone - usually the navicular bone - to break. Typical of a broken scaphoid bone is pain in the so-called tabatiére - this is the small, elongated triangular depression on the back of the wrist between the hand and thumb.

Ligament and disc injuries

There doesn't have to be a broken bone behind the pain in the wrist. A fall in which you support yourself with your hands can also damage the ligaments in your wrist: They can overstretch or even tear (tear). The pain in the wrist is particularly evident when one supports oneself with the affected hand or moves or rotates the wrist. The mobility of the wrist is limited due to pain. In addition, the affected joint can swell.

Also a violation of the Discus ulnaris triggers wrist pain. This is a piece of cartilage that lies between the ulna and the carpal bones. It can tear in an accident. A typical sign of a disc rupture is pain on the elbow (little finger) side of the wrist.

In older people, the cartilage disc frays. This can also lead to the typical pain on the little finger side of the wrist.

Inflammation as a cause of wrist pain

Acute or chronic inflammation of the tendon sheaths in the wrist can also cause wrist pain. Rheumatoid arthritis usually triggers the inflammation, especially in older people.


Tendonitis in the wrist is mainly caused by chronic overload. Those affected feel a painful pull in the wrist. The joint often swells and becomes hot.

A special form of tendinitis is the so-called tendovaginitis stenosans de Quervain ("housewife's thumb"). The first extensor tendon compartment on the wrist is inflamed. Those affected are particularly painful when they grip firmly or hold on to something. The pain can spread to the thumb and forearm.

Rheumatoid arthritis

If the wrist hurts particularly when it is pressed or bent, this can indicate rheumatoid arthritis (“rheumatism”). The joint is then usually only able to move to a limited extent. Swollen finger joints are also typical of rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis as a cause of wrist pain

Arthritis (joint wear) is characterized by load-dependent pain in the wrist. Usually the radiocarpal joint is affected by the osteoarthritis. This is the connection between the spoke bone of the forearm and the carpal bones. Radiocarpal joint osteoarthritis often occurs when a bone in this area has not just grown together after a fracture.

Other causes of wrist pain

Wrist pain can also have other causes. The options range from nerve compression (carpal tunnel syndrome) to dying bone tissue (lunate malacia).

Carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow point between the carpal bones and a tight ligament (retinaculum flexorum) that spans the bones like a bridge. In carpal tunnel syndrome, an important arm nerve (median nerve) in the carpal tunnel on the flexor side of the wrist is narrowed (compressed). Nerve compression can occur when the ligament or tissue in the carpal tunnel swells. The swelling is often triggered by chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis or a broken bone. But also in pregnancy, with diabetes mellitus, gout or an underactive thyroid gland, pain in the wrist can often be traced back to a carpal tunnel syndrome.

Signs of a carpal tunnel syndrome are pain and abnormal sensations as well as numbness in the affected hand up to the corresponding arm. The symptoms usually occur at night.


A ganglion can develop in the area of ​​the wrist (especially the back of the hand). This is a gelatinous, fluid-filled, benign tumor that is attached to the wrist or a tendon sheath. A ganglion can be recognized by the typical bulging, elastic, smoothly delimited swelling. The pain in the ganglion area can vary in severity.

Lunate malacia

In lunate malacia (Kienböck's disease), the bone tissue of the moonbone (os lunatum; one of the eight carpal bones) dies. Symptoms include more or less severe pain in the wrist. The tissue over the lunar bone in particular reacts painfully to pressure. As the disease progresses, the wrist can also become less mobile.

Lunate malacia is caused by recurring mechanical stress on the wrist, for example when one often works with a jackhammer. The disease can also develop if the ulna is shorter than the radius. One then speaks of an ulna-minus variant, because normally both arm bones are of the same length. The imbalance disrupts the distribution of pressure in the wrist. In the long term, lunate malacia with pain in the wrist can develop as a result. The ulna minus variant is congenital or the result of an accident (e.g. fall on the hand).

Diseases with this symptom

Find out here about the diseases that can cause the symptom: