Hand and wrist injuries are common following a fall onto an outstretched hand, as a result of ball and contact sports or upper limb weight bearing sports (such as gymnastics). Pain may be caused by local structures within or around the wrist or hand, or occasionally may be referred from other sources (such as the neck, upper back, shoulder or elbow).

One common clinical presentation is the patient suffering from sudden onset wrist pain typically as a result of a fall onto an outstretched hand, the cause of which is often torn ligaments or connective tissue around the wrist, such as a sprained wrist or occasionally a fracture such as a radius fracture or scaphoid fracture. In patients who experience finger trauma in ball or contact sports, a sprained finger or thumb is often the result.

Gradual onset hand and wrist pain often develops as a result of overuse, particularly through activities which require a strong grip, such as racquet sports or manual work like carpentry. One of the more common overuse wrist injuries is wrist tendonitis which involves gradual degeneration and inflammation of one or more wrist tendons. In those patients with associated neck, upper back, shoulder, elbow or forearm pain, referred pain (frequently from the neck, upper back, shoulder or elbow) is often the cause of symptoms. Arthritis may be bhind the sympotoms experienced by older patients with gradual onset wrist pain and stiffness. There are numerous other causes of hand and wrist pain, some of which present suddenly due to a specific incident and others which develop gradually over time.

Below are some of the more common causes of hand and wrist pain with a brief description of each condition to aid hand and wrist pain diagnosis. Conditions have been organised according to sudden or gradual onset and common or less common conditions for ease of use.

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