Diagnosis and Treatment of Dorsal Wrist Impingement in Wake County

What is Dorsal Wrist Impingement?

Wrist pain can cause major disruptions to a person’s daily life. Issues with the wrist can make even the most basic of daily activities more difficult, so proper orthopedic hand and wrist care is important for patients of all ages. Dorsal wrist impingement is a condition that causes pain along the back of the wrist. In those with dorsal wrist impingement, the soft tissues surrounding the wrist bones and ligaments become thickened and inflamed, leading to a pinching-type pain when the wrist is bent. 

If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your wrist, visiting an orthopedic specialist is the best way to find relief. When you visit us at Raleigh Orthopaedic, we will take time to get to know you and understand your symptoms. We want to help you get back to doing what you love through a personalized treatment plan. Learn more about dorsal wrist impingement below, and contact the Raleigh Orthopaedic office location nearest you to get the care you deserve!

What Causes Dorsal Wrist Impingement?

Dorsal wrist impingement is most common in patients between the ages of 30 and 50. This condition is often seen in those participating in activities that place repeated stress on the wrist, such as yoga, push-ups, and gardening. Athletes who play sports involving a racket (like tennis or racquetball) may also experience dorsal wrist impingement due to the repetitive hand and wrist movements required by their sport. People with jobs that require repeated wrist extension are also at an increased risk of dorsal wrist impingement. The symptoms of this condition occur when the thickened wrist capsule is pinched in the back of the joint when the wrist is bent or extended.

Symptoms of Dorsal Wrist Impingement

Several symptoms suggest the presence of dorsal wrist impingement. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a Raleigh Orthopaedic hand and wrist specialist.

  • Aching or sharp pain on the back of the wrist that worsens when the wrist is extended
  • Mild to moderate swelling on the back of the wrist
  • Tenderness on the back of the wrist
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Weakened grip strength

How is Dorsal Wrist Impingement Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose dorsal wrist impingement, your orthopedic specialist will start with a review of your medical history and a physical examination of your wrist. They will ask you about any previous hand or wrist injuries you may have experienced, and then check your wrist for pain, tenderness, and swelling. They will also test your range of motion by gently bending and straightening your wrist. In some cases, imaging tests may be needed to gather more information about your injury. X-rays can rule out other injuries, such as broken bones or torn ligaments. MRI scans can also look for other causes of wrist pain. These can include ganglion cysts, tendonitis, or a wrist ligament injury. Your doctor will use their findings to create a personalized treatment plan that takes your needs and goals for recovery into account. We want all of our patients to feel confident and comfortable, which is why we take great care to answer questions and address potential concerns every step of the way.

Treatment Options for Dorsal Wrist Impingement at Raleigh Orthopaedic

Nonsurgical Treatment

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Treatment for dorsal wrist impingement is usually nonsurgical and is focused on reducing inflammation, alleviating pain, and restoring proper range of motion. Your doctor will advise you to rest your wrist and avoid exercises and activities that cause pain and discomfort. If certain sports or activities have led to pain, you will need to avoid them as your wrist heals. The use of a splint or brace can help reduce pressure on the inflamed capsule and keep the wrist in a comfortable position for long periods of time. Inflammation and pain can also be addressed with ice packs applied to the affected area several times a day. Another core conservative treatment method for dorsal wrist impingement is physical therapy. You’ll learn how to perform exercises and stretches to improve your range of motion and strength while also promoting healthy movement of the wrist. Raleigh Orthopaedic is proud to offer comprehensive physical therapy and hand therapy services in Wake County, with therapy plans created based on the unique needs of each patient.

Surgical Treatment Options

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Surgery is not usually needed for dorsal wrist impingement. It is only considered in severe cases of the condition or where nonsurgical treatment methods have failed to provide relief. Surgery for dorsal wrist impingement is usually performed arthroscopically. Arthroscopic surgery provides several benefits for patients, including less blood loss, faster recovery time, and reduced pain. During the procedure, a camera is inserted into the wrist joint through a small incision to allow the surgeon to fully visualize the area. The inflamed tissue is removed or trimmed back so it will no longer be pinched when the joint is bent. If wrist surgery is the best next step for you, the members of your care team will ensure that you are fully prepared for your procedure.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Dorsal Wrist Impingement?

The amount of time it takes for symptoms of dorsal wrist impingement to resolve can differ from patient to patient. Whether or not you need surgery, you should continue to follow your doctor’s instructions and rest your wrist as much as possible. You will need to wear a wrist splint up to two weeks after your surgical procedure, and then you should be able to resume your normal activities. Physical therapy may also be part of your post-surgical care plan and is often essential for patients looking to regain full range of motion and function of the wrist joint.

How to Prevent Dorsal Wrist Impingement

The best way to prevent dorsal wrist impingement is to use proper form when exercising and give your wrist time to rest between strenuous activities. You should always stretch before exercising to maintain proper wrist strength and flexibility and move away from exercises or positions that cause discomfort or pain. It is also important to work with an orthopedic specialist if you start to experience pain, as this can prevent your injury or condition from worsening over time.

Personalized Hand and Wrist Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic

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As Wake County’s oldest and most experienced orthopedic practice, Raleigh Orthopaedic is here for you. We want to help you get back to doing what you love via personalized treatment plans and compassionate care. Our clinic locations in Wake County are staffed by professionals who take the time to get to know each patient and understand their recovery goals. We want to help you find relief, whether you were injured on the sports field, at work, or home. To get started with Raleigh Orthopaedic, give us a call or book an appointment online today! We look forward to helping you live your healthiest and most comfortable life.