What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage in the Wrist?

Nerve damage to the wrist area can be caused by any number of factors, from trauma to a chronic pathology. The symptoms also can range from mildly odd sensations to excruciating pain from the fingers to the forearm. It is important to define the symptoms for a proper diagnosis in order to effectively treat the underlying condition.

Tingling and Numbness

Tingling and numbness sensations are carried by nerves in the hand and arm. When a nerve is damaged, the nerves react by becoming dysfunctional, resulting is abnormal nerve signals being sent to the brain. These signals often are interpreted as tingling, numbness and heaviness. Sometimes the sensation may feel as though a glove is worn on the hand. The distribution of these sensations is related to which nerve is damaged. The precise location of the symptoms, as determined by a physical exam or using electrodiagnostics, may be used to pinpoint where the damage might be. Tingling and numbness sensations manifest primarily in the early stages of nerve damage, as, for example, in the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.


When nerves are damaged, they usually react by eliciting pain. Nerve damage pain, called neuropathic pain, is generally elicited as a result of more severe nerve damage. Pain can be experienced in a wide variety of ways, depending on several factors. These include the type of injury, its location, which nerve or nerves are involved, and any other associated pathological conditions 2. Pain descriptors also vary widely to reflect the different types of pain experiences. They can range from a mild, dull aching to a hammering and excruciating type of pain. The pain can also be intermittent or chronic. Examples of other pain descriptors are electric--like shooting, stabbing, burning, itching or crushing. Wrist pain can be indicative of several chronic conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, deQuervain’s syndrome and nerve palsy 2.


Nerves of the arm provide strength and coordination to the muscles of the forearm and hand. As these nerves pass through the wrist, they can be damaged, and result in weakness of the hand and finger muscles forward of the point of damage. The signs of nerve damage in the wrist are often loss of strength in the hand. This is especially pronounced while attempting to grip objects with all of the fingers, or pinching objects with two fingers. Nerve damage in the wrist also can result in loss of coordination and dexterity when trying to perform complex tasks with the hand and fingers.