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Wrist Bursitis

Wrist Bursitis

What is Wrist Bursitis?

Wrist bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when a bursa in the wrist becomes swollen and inflamed.

A bursa is a small sac that secretes a lubricating liquid called synovial fluid which reduces friction between tissues, acts as a cushion between the muscles, tendons, and bones, and helps lubricate the joints to move freely.

There are more than 150 bursae in the human body. There are two bursae in the wrist, both of which can develop bursitis:

  • Radial bursa
  • Ulnar bursa

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes Wrist Bursitis?

The most common cause of wrist bursitis is long-term repetitive movements or positions (whether from your job or hobby) that put pressure on the wrist joint.

Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing wrist bursitis include:

  • Previous surgery or injury to the wrist
  • Trauma, such as a hard fall on the wrist
  • Bacterial infection, called septic bursitis
  • Inflammatory autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and gout
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Bone spurs from osteoarthritis
  • Weak wrist muscles
  • Improper technique in sports like tennis and baseball
  • Age – anyone can develop bursitis, but it becomes more common with aging

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Wrist Bursitis?

Wrist bursitis causes swelling, tenderness and pain in areas around the wrist joint, including tendons, ligaments, bursae and muscles.

Depending on the cause of your wrist bursitis, signs and symptoms may include:

  • A noticeable lump over your wrist
  • Achy, stiff wrist
  • Sharp shooting pain or pain that gets worse when you move your wrist or press on it
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Red and warm wrist with or without a fever and chills, if the cause of your wrist bursitis is due to infection

Concerned about symptoms of wrist bursitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

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How is Wrist Bursitis Treated?

Treatments for wrist bursitis can include:

  • Applying ice, resting your wrist, and avoiding activities
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medications, including:
    • Topical medications such as creams, sprays, gels or patches
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescribed, or over-the-counter, such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve
    • Antibiotics (if your wrist bursitis is caused by an infection)
  • Draining a swollen bursa of excess fluid with a needle and syringe which can then be tested at a lab to determine if the bursa is infected
  • Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation (only if the cause is not due to infection)
  • Surgery

Surgical removal of the bursa is very rare. If surgery is necessary after other less invasive treatments have not helped, physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy for Wrist Bursitis

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, regaining strength, increasing joint mobility and function, and preventing recurrence. 

At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.

Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for wrist bursitis can include:

Are you seeking physiotherapy for wrist bursitis treatment? Book an assessment today.

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Can Wrist Bursitis Go Away on Its Own?

Depending on the cause, wrist bursitis can get better on its own within a few weeks with at-home treatments in conjunction with modifying your daily habits, including:

  • Applying heat and cold therapy appropriately
  • Resting your wrist in between workouts and repetitive actions (only resume these activities once pain and swelling are under control)
  • Minimizing actions that put stress on your wrist, like writing, typing, gardening, playing a musical instrument, lifting weights, or baseball (until pain and swelling are under control)
  • Using assistive devices such as jar openers, key turners, and large zipper pulls; using kitchen utensils and tools with larger handles
  • Replacing door knobs with levers that you push down on, not turn
  • Wearing a wrist brace, sleeve, or glove to support the wrist while sleeping or doing repetitive motions during the day, making sure to alternate activities with rest

However, repeated flare-ups are common, so if the above measures don’t resolve your symptoms, you may want to consult a physiotherapist for a custom treatment plan to address your unique concerns.

Can You Prevent Wrist Bursitis?

There are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of developing wrist bursitis, including:

  • Exercising regularly, including stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi (at least 30 minutes every day)
  • Warming up before exercising or playing sports, and cooling down afterward
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (avoiding processed and refined foods and sugar)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (which reduces joint strain and pain, and increases mobility and energy)

Book a Physiotherapy Consult for Wrist Bursitis Today

Concerned about symptoms of wrist bursitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

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