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Your wrist may make clicking noises for a variety of reasons. Injuries, arthritis or wrist instability are possible causes for clicking noises when the wrist is moved. The clicking may not be serious, or it may require surgery to correct. Your physician can determine the cause of the clicking and recommend a course of treatment.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Ligament injuries are common causes for clicking noises in the wrist, according to Todd Foreman, et al., authors of "A Clinical Approach to Diagnosing Wrist Pain." When the ligaments are torn or completely severed, the bones in the wrist may rub against one another, causing a clicking sound when the wrist is moved 12. Another characteristic of a ligament injury is that it might cause extreme pain. Physicians treat torn or damaged ligaments by placing the wrist in a cast or splint or by surgically repairing the damaged ligament.
- Ligament injuries are common causes for clicking noises in the wrist, according to Todd Foreman, et al., When the ligaments are torn or completely severed, the bones in the wrist may rub against one another, causing a clicking sound when the wrist is moved 1.
Rehabilitation Exercises for a Dislocated Finger
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, affects most patients as they age. As the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones between the wrists wears down over time, a patient's wrists may begin to click when she moves them. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but steroids and anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the pain and swelling in the wrists. In severe cases, your physician may advise surgery to reconstruct the wrist.
- Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, affects most patients as they age.
- There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but steroids and anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the pain and swelling in the wrists.
Injuries or congenital malformations of the wrist may cause the wrist bones to fail to line up correctly, which can lead to rubbing and clicking 2. The treatment for this instability depends on which bones are affected and whether the patient's range of motion is affected, according to William Patrick Cooney, author of "The Wrist: Diagnosis and Operative Treatment." However, surgery to correct the alignment of the bones is the usual course of treatment, especially if it is painful or a patient's ability to move his wrist is limited because of the problem 4.
When to Consult a Physician
Knee Cap Pain & Swelling
If your wrist is clicking, consult your physician for an evaluation. Your wrist may not require treatment, particularly if the clicking isn't accompanied by pain, swelling or problems with moving your wrist. However, if you develop swelling or problems moving your wrist, or if your wrist hurts, see your physician as soon as possible. Some problems, such as ligament injuries, may be easier to treat if you catch them early.
- If your wrist is clicking, consult your physician for an evaluation.
- Your wrist may not require treatment, particularly if the clicking isn't accompanied by pain, swelling or problems with moving your wrist.
Rehabilitation Exercises for a Dislocated Finger
Knee Cap Pain & Swelling
Symptoms of Forearm Tendinitis
How Do I Treat a Bone Chip?
Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Finger
Pain in the Knee & Occasional Popping When Walking
Treatment for Capsulitis of the Feet
Side Effects of Occlusal Splint Therapy
Elbow Is Snapping During Exercise
The Duration of a Broken Finger
- American Family Physician; A Clinical Approach to Diagnosing Wrist Pain
- Orthogate.org: Ligament Injuries of the Wrist
- Cleveland Clinic.org: Arthritis of the Hand and Wrist
- The Wrist: Diagnosis and Operative Treatment; William Patrick Cooney
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- Paavola M, Kannus P, Järvinen TA, Järvinen TL, Józsa L, Järvinen M. Treatment of tendon disorders. Is there a role for corticosteroid injection?. Foot Ankle Clin. 2002;7(3):501-13.
- Adams JE, Habbu R. Tendinopathies of the Hand and Wrist. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2015 Dec;23(12):741-50.
- Dale AM, Harris-Adamson D, Rempel D, e al. Prevalence and incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in US working populations: pooled analysis of six prospective studies. Scand J Work, Environ & Health. 2013;39(5):495-505. DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.3351.
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- Shehab R, Mirabelli MH. Evaluation and Diagnosis of Wrist Pain: A Case-Based Approach. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Apr 15;87(8):568-73.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.