The wrist is a part of the body that is often prone to injuries and pain. This can be because of its vulnerable position or the fact that it is responsible for various movements of the hand, including stability. Through the course of this article, we will shed more light on various ways of taping the wrist for pain relief.
The wrist, like any other part of the body, contains various ligaments, tendons, muscles, vessels, and nerves. There are eight bones arranged in two rows on the wrist. These rows of bones, along with some ligaments on the wrist, form the carpal tunnel. In this carpal tunnel lies several nerves and blood vessels. Constriction of the tunnel can affect these structures and cause pain. This is just one of the causes of wrist pain. We will discuss other causes, conditions, diseases, and injuries below.
Causes of Wrist Pain
- Wrist Sprain: This falls under the injury part of the causes of wrist pain. We will be focusing on sprains because they are the most common type of wrist pain. A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched beyond its normal range. This can be due to stress, a fall, or overuse.
There are different grades of wrist sprains: Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III. Grade I involves a slight stretch of the ligaments, and you can feel mild to moderate pain. In Grade II, the ligaments are stretched much further and may have torn a little. With Grade II sprains you should feel moderate pain. Grade III involves complete avulsion and is accompanied by severe pain. You may even experience some discoloration and bruising from Grade III sprains.
- Arthritis: This condition involves the inflammation of the joints. It causes swelling and stiffness, which explains why carpal tunnel syndrome can result from this condition. It can also be caused by repetitive movement of the hands or old age. Two common types of arthritis can affect the wrist: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This syndrome is named after the narrow tunnel in the wrist and has to do with the median nerve. The median nerve is one of the main nerves of the forearm. It is located on the palm side of the hand within the carpal tunnel and innervates the thumb, index finger, middle finger and a part of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed, which can be caused by swelling or constriction of the carpal tunnel. It can also be caused by frequent and excessive movement of the hands. Conditions like arthritis and diabetes can also lead to this syndrome.
- Ganglion Cysts: These are noncancerous, often harmless lumps that are commonly found on the back of the wrist. They are painless by themselves, but can cause pain when they put pressure on some structures in the wrist.
Symptoms of Wrist Pain
Symptoms of wrist pain vary with the causes. Here are some common ones: numbness, swelling of the fingers, tingling sensation that worsens at night, difficulty making certain movements like making a fist, difficulty gripping, unnecessary warmth of the wrist, sudden stabbing in the wrist, swollen fingers, and redness.
Preventing Wrist Pain
You cannot possibly prevent all injuries or conditions, but it is never a bad idea to try when you can. You can start by doing some of the following:
- Use protective gear when performing athletic activities or any dangerous activities in general. Wearing wrist guards is a good way to start preventing wrist injuries.
- Wear sensible shoes as much as you can, remove possible home hazards, and try to always walk on even ground. This helps to prevent falls.
- Take regular breaks during activities that involve repetitive use of your hands, e.g., typing.
- If your job involves a lot of typing, you should consider getting an ergonomic keyboard for comfort. In addition, try to find the best posture for typing.
- Do not drink too much alcohol; try water instead.
- Stay physically active and keep your weight in a healthy range.
Treatments for Wrist Pain
Treatments for wrist pain also vary with the condition, but these are some of the common methods that are used:
- Steroid injections.
- RICE. This is the common household treatment for mild injuries. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Using cold or hot compression packs for about twenty minutes at regular intervals can be used to manage inflammation.
- Taking pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen and naproxen can help with pain relief.
- Wearing a wrist brace or splint can be a way of providing support and stability.
- Physical therapy, like taping, can be used for support and pain relief.
- Aspiration, which involves draining a cyst in the case of ganglion cysts
- Surgery can be necessary in severe cases.
Risk Factors of Wrist Pain
Certain conditions and habits can put you at a higher risk of developing diseases that cause wrist pain. Some of them include obesity, overconsuming alcohol, smoking, living with untreated infections, diabetes, gout, kidney disease, pregnancy, and performing repetitive tasks.
Kinesiology Sports Tape
Kinesiology sports tapes are often used by physical therapists to treat wrist pain. One of the brands that a lot of practitioners prefer is the Hampton Adams brand. This is due to the quality of the materials we use, the comfortability of our tapes, or our no sticky residue policy.
Kinesiology sports tape can be used to support muscles and joints that are weaker than normal due to conditions like arthritis. They can also be used to protect the injury by providing extra musculoskeletal support.
Other functions that Kinesiology tape performs include posture correction, improvement of blood circulation and endurance, and enhancement of recovery.
How to Tape the Wrist with Kinesiology Tape
There are various ways of taping the wrist depending on your condition and which method your doctor thinks will be best suited for you. In this article, we will talk about two of these methods. However, before we go into that, here are some basic steps you need to follow, no matter the method:
These general steps are about keeping your wrist clean and dry before taping. Wash your wrists, hands and forearms with warm soapy water to clean-up. This is because the K-tape will not only cover your wrist, but also other portions of your arm. After washing, dry thoroughly with a clean towel and shave off any excess hair. This will help to improve adhesion, reduce any risk of infection, and also make removal of the tape easy.
The first method of wrist taping we’ll be discussing is used to support the ligament and restrict wrist movement. For this, you will need two pieces of tape. One should be split at the top, and the other should be about half of its length. The steps are as follows:
- Splay your fingers wide to acquire the full length of your wrist.
- Take the longer strip of tape that has been split at the top and tape one part of it around the split. Then wrap it around the space between your thumb and index finger from the outer part.
- Take the other end of the split tape and do the same as the preceding step but from the inside of the hand this time.
- Take the remaining part of the tape and stick it to the thumb side of your wrist.
- Wrap the shorter strip of tape around your forearm for support.
This other method is a protective one to prevent hyperextension of the wrist during activity. You will need a little bit of athletic tape, some pre wrap (optional), and kinesiology tape. These are the steps you have to take:
- If you are using pre wrap, apply a single layer of it to your wrist and hand. You have to start from your forearm and then continue in a circular manner around your wrist and hand. The pre wrap is there for protection but it may decrease the effectiveness of the tape.
- Apply an anchor strip around your forearm and hand.
- Apply two strips on the palm of your hand to form an X. It should extend to the wrist to prevent hyperextension or hyperflexion.
- Start wrapping from the space between the thumb and index finger in a figure-eight fashion. Keep wrapping in a circular manner until it is firm enough.
- Apply two more strips of tape until you cover the base of the thumb.
- Cover it all with three more figure-eight wraps. This is to make it firmer.
Any further questions you have about taping the wrist can be directed to our customer service at Hampton Adams. You can also purchase your taping products from us.