Three reasons for pinky sided wrist pain
Pinky-sided wrist pain, also known as ulnar-sided wrist pain, can be caused by various factors. Here are three possible reasons for pinky-sided wrist pain:
TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) Injury: The TFCC is a structure that supports the ulnar side of the wrist and stabilizes the joint. Injury or tear to the TFCC can cause pinky-sided wrist pain. This can result from trauma, such as a fall on an outstretched hand, or from repetitive motions. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, clicking or catching sensations, and difficulty with gripping or rotating the wrist.
ECU (Extensor Carpi Ulnaris) Tendonitis: The extensor carpi ulnaris tendon runs along the pinky side of the wrist and is responsible for extending and stabilizing the wrist joint. Overuse or repetitive strain on the ECU tendon can lead to tendonitis, causing pain on the pinky side of the wrist. Activities that involve repetitive wrist extension or ulnar deviation can contribute to this condition. Symptoms may include pain, tenderness, swelling, and difficulty with wrist movements.
Fracture of the Base of the 5th Metacarpal: A fracture at the base of the fifth metacarpal bone, known as a boxer’s fracture, can cause pain on the pinky side of the wrist. This type of fracture often occurs from a direct impact or punch to a solid object. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, deformity, and difficulty with gripping or moving the hand and wrist.
Here at Easy Orthopedics in Colorado Springs, we frequently see patients with pinky sided wrist pain syndrome.
How do you treat ulnar sided wrist pain?
The treatment for pinky-sided wrist pain caused by TFCC injury, ECU tendonitis, or a fracture of the base of the 5th metacarpal will vary depending on the specific injury and its severity. Here are general treatment approaches for each condition:
- Rest and immobilization: Limit activities that aggravate the symptoms and allow the TFCC to heal. Immobilization may involve wearing a splint or brace.
- Ice therapy: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to help reduce pain and swelling.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage instructions.
- Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches may be recommended to restore strength and flexibility in the wrist and promote healing. A physical therapist can guide you through appropriate exercises.
- In severe cases, where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. This could involve arthroscopic repair or reconstruction of the TFCC.
- Steroid injection: A steroid injection can often relieve the inflammation of the TFCC and promote rapid healing
- Rest and activity modification: Avoid activities that worsen the pain and stress on the ECU tendon. Modify or temporarily cease activities that involve repetitive wrist extension or ulnar deviation.
- Immobilization and splinting: Wearing a splint or brace can provide support and reduce strain on the ECU tendon during the healing process.
- Ice therapy: Apply ice packs to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation.
- NSAIDs: Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can guide you through exercises to stretch and strengthen the forearm muscles and provide modalities like ultrasound or manual therapy to aid in healing.
- Steroid injection: A steroid injection can often relieve the inflammation of the ECU tendon and promote rapid healing
Fracture of the Base of the 5th Metacarpal:
- Immobilization: Depending on the severity of the fracture, the hand may need to be immobilized with a cast, splint, or brace to allow for proper healing.
- Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications can help manage pain during the healing process.
- Ice therapy: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy: Once the initial healing phase is complete, a physical therapist may guide you through exercises to restore range of motion, strength, and function.
- In some cases, if the fracture is displaced or unstable, surgical intervention may be necessary to realign the bone fragments and stabilize the fracture.
Does ulnar wrist pain go away on its own?
Ulnar wrist pain can vary in its severity and underlying cause, so whether it goes away on its own will depend on the specific circumstances. In some cases, mild ulnar wrist pain resulting from minor strains or overuse may resolve with rest and conservative self-care measures. However, more severe or persistent ulnar wrist pain may require medical intervention for proper treatment and resolution.
How do you stretch the ulnar side of your wrist?
Stretching the ulnar side of the wrist can help improve flexibility and reduce tension or discomfort in that area. Here is a simple stretch you can try:
Start by extending your affected arm straight out in front of you, with your palm facing down.
Bend your wrist downwards, pointing your fingers towards the floor.
With your other hand, gently pull the fingers of your bent wrist towards your body. You should feel a stretch on the ulnar side of your wrist and forearm.
Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, while maintaining a gentle pull on the fingers.
Release the stretch and relax your wrist.
Repeat the stretch 2-3 times, ensuring you do not overstretch or cause any pain.
It’s important to note that everyone’s flexibility and tolerance to stretching may vary. Start with a gentle stretch and gradually increase the intensity if it feels comfortable. If you experience pain or discomfort during the stretch, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional for further guidance.
Additionally, it’s beneficial to work with a physical therapist or hand therapist who can provide you with specific stretches and exercises tailored to your condition and individual needs. They can assess your range of motion and develop a comprehensive stretching and strengthening program for your ulnar side of the wrist and forearm.
I hope we were able to answer some of your questions about pinky sided (ulnar) wrist pain. If you would like us to evaluate your pinky sided wrist pain and are in the Colorado area, contact us below to make an appointment at Easy Orthopedics.