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Ulnar Wrist Pain: Causes, Conditions, and Treatment Options

Blue Ridge Region / 08 Apr 2024

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by EmergeOrtho
Ulnar Wrist Pain: Causes, Conditions, and Treatment Options

Wrist pain can be bothersome and even debilitating, affecting your daily activities and overall quality of life. The EmergeOrtho—Blue Ridge Region Wrist subspecialists have treated hundreds of patients with wrist pain and understand the complexities of the wrist as well as the importance of having a pain-free, fully functional wrist to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. When we have undergone our comprehensive patient evaluations, we have frequently determined that a common potential source of a patient’s issue comes down to ulnar wrist pain.

The ulnar wrist bone, otherwise referred to as the ulna, plays a vital role in your wrist’s stability and movement. If you are experiencing wrist pain, there may be a number of possible causes to consider and a variety of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available.

Understanding the Ulna

The ulna is one of the two long bones in the forearm, running from the elbow to the wrist on the inner side of the arm. It forms part of the wrist joint and helps your forearm and wrist move, flex, and rotate. The ulna holds more than a dozen muscles in place, providing stability to the rest of your arm, wrist, and hand.

Potential Causes of Ulnar Wrist Pain

Five of the most common causes of ulnar wrist pain include:

  • Ulnar Impaction Syndrome: This occurs when the ulna is longer than the radius, causing it to impinge on the wrist joint structures.
  • Wrist Fracture: A fracture in the ulna or any of the surrounding bones can lead to pain in the ulnar area.
  • Ulnar Styloid Fracture: The styloid process is a bony prominence at the end of the ulna. Fractures in this area can cause localized pain.
  • Ligament Injury: Damage to the ligaments that support the ulnar side of the wrist can result in pain and instability.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons surrounding the ulnar wrist can cause pain and discomfort.

Conditions Associated With Wrist Pain on the Ulnar Side

An X-ray image of a wrist is highlighted in blue.EmergeOrtho board-certified wrist specialists utilize advanced diagnostic technology and services to diagnose the cause of wrist pain, including state-of-the-art MRI scanners, electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS), computed-tomography scan (CT), and X-rays. Some of the conditions we have diagnosed include:

  • Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Injury: The TFCC is a structure located on the ulnar side of the wrist. Injuries to this complex can cause ulnar wrist pain.
  • Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome: Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, this condition occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed or irritated at the wrist, leading to pain and numbness.
  • Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can cause wrist pain to the ulna due to joint inflammation and cartilage damage.

Nonsurgical Wrist Ulnar Pain Treatment Options

At EmergeOrtho, we develop an individualized treatment plan to address your wrist condition. In-house, we utilize a variety of conservative options in an effort to reduce or eliminate your wrist pain, including:

  • Rest and Immobilization: Avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain and using splints or braces to immobilize the wrist can promote healing.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can strengthen the wrist, improve flexibility, and alleviate pain.
  • Occupational Modifications: Modifying work or daily activities that aggravate the pain can help in managing symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a corticosteroid injection may be administered to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief.

Surgical Treatment Options

If conservative treatments do not minimize your ulnar wrist pain, our expert surgeons may explore if you are a good candidate for some of the following surgical options:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery: This minimally invasive procedure involves using a tiny camera and specialized instruments to repair or remove damaged structures in the wrist.
  • Ulnar Shortening Osteotomy: In cases of ulnar impaction syndrome, the ulna may need to be surgically shortened to alleviate pressure on the wrist joint.
  • Ligament Reconstruction: Surgical repair or reconstruction of damaged ligaments can restore stability to the ulnar side of the wrist.

Ulnar-sided wrist pain can have various underlying causes and may be indicative of specific conditions affecting the wrist joint. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a wrist specialist are essential for effective management. If you are experiencing ulnar wrist pain, consult with one of our highly qualified wrist specialists for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. Emerge Stronger, Healthier, and Better with our expert care at EmergeOrtho—Blue Ridge Region. Request an Appointment here.

A New Level Of Orthopedic Care Has Emerged

EmergeOrtho-Blue Ridge Region patients benefit from a full range of orthopedic services, including diagnostics, imaging, treatment, physical and occupational therapy, and pain management. From conservative care to surgical interventions, our team of specialists provides expert care and real results. Self-schedule or request your appointment today.