Tile menu

Wrist and Hand Pain

The wrist is a complicated joint made up of the radius and ulna of the forearm and two rows of 4 small bones called Carpals. The finger joints extend from the carpal bones and each finger is made up of 1 small bone called a metacarpal (the end of this is the knuckle) and then 3 phalanges which are the long finger bones (the thumb only has 2). Muscles in the forearm activate the fingers by contracting long tendons which run through the wrist and hand. Each hand consists of 27 bones in total which allow for us to manipulate objects with precision and provide us with a large range of motion.

If you have had trauma to your hand or wrist and have a significant loss of movement then please self-refer to be assessed in person

What can I do to help?

Pain relief: Simple painkillers (like paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, (like ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective but don’t use them for more than 2 weeks without seeking medical advice. You should carefully read the Patient Information Leaflet that is provided with this medication. 

It is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking additional pain relief if you are currently:

•              taking any form of medication

•              have any other pre-existing medical conditions

•              pregnant

Ice or heat: If your wrist or hand is painful then applying an ice pack, hot water bottle or gels may be helpful for reducing pain. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for up to 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated several times a day. If using gels then check with your GP or Pharmacist if you have other health conditions/medications which may prevent this.

Reducing the strain on your wrist or hand: It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day.

Rest: Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your wrist or hand from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that are repetitive. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do.

Exercise: Exercise is often a helpful treatment for wrist or hand pain and will give the joint strength and flexibility. Below are a few exercises to try for your wrist or hand. They should not aggravate your pain whilst you perform them, if they do, do not push through the pain.

A little post exercise discomfort is not uncommon and not a sign of damage. If you experience pain that regularly lasts for more than 30 minutes after exercise and feel that overall your pain is worsening please stop all exercises and seek advice from the physiotherapy department.



Gripping Exercise 

Holding a soft ball or sponge 

Squeeze tightly and then slowly release


Wrist Extension

Wrist extension

Wrist Extension Exercise 

Sitting next to a table with your forearm supported 

Your wrist and hand should be over the edge (with or without a weight)

Palm facing downwards

Slowly raise your wrist up and return to the starting position


Wrist Flexion


Wrist Flexion Exercises 

With your forearm rested on a table and wrist/hand over the edge 

With your palm up to the ceiling (with or without a weight)

Bend your wrist up and slowly return to the starting position


Select font size
Site colour