The bones and muscles of the elbow, wrist and hand are all interconnected and pain that presents itself in one of these areas can affect another. The bones of the elbow, the ulna and radius, also form the wrist and most of the muscles that are responsible for movement in your wrist and fingers are located in the forearm.
The most common cause of an elbow injury is overuse resulting in bursitis or tennis elbow. Bursitis occurs when the bursae, tiny fluid sacs near your joints, become inflamed. The result can be a stiff or achy feeling and painful when moved or touched. Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons, flexible but inelastic tissue that connects muscle to bone, in your elbow become inflamed from repetitive use. The pain typically occurs at the bony bump of the elbow where the tendons of your forearm muscle attach but can also radiate down to toward the wrist. Although the name refers to a sport, anyone who completes repetitive actions with their wrists and arms can develop tennis elbow.
Wrist pain is typically the result of a sudden injury. These injuries like sprains (stretch or tear of a ligament, the tissue that connects bone to other bones), strains (the stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects muscle to bone), and fractures most often occur from falling forward or backwards and using your hands to brace your fall. Pain resulting from these injuries can vary but all will likely reduce strength, range of motion and function of the wrist and hand.
Carpal tunnel is another very common cause of pain in the wrist and hand. Repetitive movements like typing can place pressure on the median nerve, the nerve that runs down your arm, through the carpal tunnel of the wrist, and into the hand. Carpal tunnel can cause weakness, numbness, and tingling in your wrist and hand and may also present as a burning sensation.
Your All Star physical therapist will complete a thorough evaluation of your injury that may include measuring your range of motion, functionality, and strength. The goal of physical therapy will be to decrease pain while increasing the range of motion and strength through hands-on therapy, stretching, and exercise. In addition, heat, ice, ultrasound, and electric stimulation may be used to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.