Wrist pain is not uncommon for many Americans. In Alaska, however, it takes on special significance because of the halibut fishing season. The largest flatfish in the world, mature halibut can easily weigh 300 to 500 pounds. A halibut can give you an exciting fight over a period of several hours, but reeling them in and hauling those big boys out of the ocean is hard on the wrists. Here’s what you need to know about wrist pain, courtesy of the Orthopedic Research Clinic of Alaska.
The Anatomy of Wrist Pain
One of the most complex joints in the body, the wrist is composed of eight small bones, which means numerous small joints. Connected by ligaments, the wrist is marvelously flexible and complex, but those qualities also mean that if any part is injured, the wrist hurts and may not work correctly. Wrist pain may occur from a single significant injury or from chronic overuse and stress on the joints. It may also result from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Diagnosing Wrist Pain
Persistent or severe wrist pain should never be ignored. Untreated wrist conditions can lead to deformity and disability that may even become permanent. A hand specialist – such as a orthopedic surgeon who specializes in conditions of the hand and wrist – is a good choice for wrist pain. After an initial evaluation, which includes a personal and family history, you may need X-rays, an MRI or an arthroscopy (using a tiny camera to look inside the wrist) to determine the exact cause of the pain and the extent of the condition.
Treating Wrist Pain
Minor wrist pain from overuse often responds to simple conservative measures like rest – perhaps with a splint or brace – ice or heat, and over the counter pain medications. A joint injection with a local anesthetic and steroid medication may help reduce pain and disability, although the effects may be temporary (a few months to a year). Surgery may be necessary for ligament damage, fractures or other more serious conditions of the wrist.
If you have wrist pain, please contact the Orthopedic Research Clinic of Alaska. Our specialists can assess your condition and make recommendations for treatment. Oh, and we’d like to see a picture of the halibut that caused the problem in the first place!