Did you know that the name of the common wrist condition—carpal tunnel syndrome—comes from the narrow passage formed by the bones and ligaments of the wrist called the carpal tunnel?
The wrist consists of eight small bones called the carpal bones that allow a wide range of motion and provide stability to the hand. There are also ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscle attachments within the wrist. Therefore, despite being small, a lot of injuries can affect the wrist severely in some cases.
In this article, you will find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of wrist injuries. Most especially, you will learn how kinesiology sports tape can be used to treat wrist pain.
Common Causes of Wrist Pain
- Wrist Sprain: Sprains are one of the most common injuries that can occur to the wrist or any part of the body. A sprain involves an overstretch of the ligaments beyond the normal range. A wrist sprain can be caused by falling and landing on your hand or by twisting your hand the wrong way.
There are different grades of wrist sprains: Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III. In Grade I, the ligaments are only slightly stretched, and you can feel mild pain. In Grade II, the ligaments may have torn a little, and you should feel moderate pain. Grade III involves complete avulsion accompanied by severe pain.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The median nerve, one of the nerves of the forearm, is located on the palm-side of the hand and innervates (provides sensation to) the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and a part of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when this nerve, located in the carpal tunnel within the werist, is compressed. It can be caused by frequent and excessive movement of the hands. It can also be caused by pregnancy when some parts of your body swell up, causing nerve compression. Lastly, it can be caused by conditions like diabetes and arthritis; it can also be hereditary.
- Arthritis: This is a condition that involves inflammation of the joints. It causes swelling and stiffness which is why carpal tunnel syndrome can be an offshoot of the condition. It can be caused by repetitive movement of the hands, and by aging. There are two common types of arthritis that affect the wrist: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that becomes easier to develop with age.
It is caused by damage to the protective tissues around joints. This causes friction and, in turn, pain and swelling. On the other hand, RA is an autoimmune disease where your immune system seems to be fighting against you rather than for you.
Risk Factors of Wrist Pain
Some certain situations and habits put you at a higher risk of developing conditions that cause wrist pain. They include obesity, living with untreated infections, overconsuming alcohol, smoking, conditions like diabetes and kidney disease, pregnancy, and performing repetitive tasks.
Symptoms of Wrist Pain
Symptoms of wrist pain may vary with the causes. Still, some common ones include unnecessary wrist warmth, numbness, swelling of the fingers, difficulty making certain movements like making a fist, tingling sensation that worsens at night, swelling, and redness.
Treatments for Wrist Pain
- Steroid injections.
- Using cold or hot compression packs at regular intervals.
- Taking pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
- Wearing a wrist brace or splint to provide support and stability.
- Physical therapy like taping for support and pain relief.
- Aspiration- draining a cyst in the case of ganglion cysts.
- Surgery in severe cases.
Preventing Wrist Pain
It is impossible to completely prevent all wrist pain but you can lessen your chances of developing it by doing the following:
- Use protective gear when performing athletic activities or any dangerous activities in general. Wearing wrist guards is a good place to start.
- If you are constantly typing, consider getting an ergonomic keyboard for comfort. Also, try to find the best posture, a relaxed one, for typing.
- Wear comfortable and sensible shoes, remove possible hazards, and walk on the ground as much as possible. This is to prevent falls.
- Take regular breaks during activities that involve continuous use of your hands, e.g., typing.
- Do not take too much alcohol, try switching much of it with water.
- Stay physically active and keep your weight in check.
How to Use Kinesiology Tape for Wrist Pain?
We have talked about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of wrist pain. While discussing treatment methods, we mentioned taping as a form of physical therapy, and we will be focusing a bit more on that.
The word “kinesiology” should bring to mind the other word, “kinetics,” which is not far off. Kinetics talks about movement while kinesiology involves the study and improvement of said movement. K-tape is one of the pieces of equipment used in this quest to aid body movement. It is made of flexible, hypoallergenic fabric with a coating of adhesive.
As anyone who follows any type of sport or has been to the chiropractic side of the hospital, you must have seen this tape. Usually, they are arranged in different patterns across various body parts. Physical therapists pick these patterns according to which style best suits a certain condition. So, what exactly can kinesiology tapes do for the body? What can they do for the wrist especially?
Kinesio tapes can be used to support muscles and joints that are weak due to certain conditions. This can be used as a preventive measure but also after injury. In regards to the wrist, this will be a good way of managing arthritis and other conditions that weaken the wrist muscles. All you have to do is tape it properly to the affected wrist to provide support for that wrist.
An upside to using kinesiology tape is that the support it provides does not in any way restrict your movement. This is partly thanks to the material used but can also be attributed to the natural flexibility of k-tape. Companies like ours, Hampton Adams, use pure cotton in making tapes, which contributes largely to improving that feature.
Kinesio tape can also be used to relieve pain that accompanies most wrist injuries and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. This is possible due to the texture of the tape. Kinesiology tape is generally designed to feel like the epidermis of the skin, hence, it molds perfectly to the body. This is how it performs decompression.
With how close k-tape can be to the skin, it successfully lifts the skin off the structures beneath it, like vessels, nerves, and muscles. This changes the signals sent to the brain and reduces friction that may occur when skin rubs on bone. It also reduces swelling by letting fluids like blood and lymph pass unobstructed.
Other functions of Kinesio tape include posture correction, improvement of blood circulation, enhancement of recovery, and improvement of endurance.
How to Apply Kinesiology Tape to the Wrist
There are various ways of taping the wrist, but before we delve into those, there are some basic steps you need to follow, no matter the technique.
This is all about keeping the area clean before taping. Wash your wrist and include your hand and forearm in the clean-up. This is because the tape will not only cover your wrist. After washing, dry thoroughly and shave off any excess hair. These steps will improve adhesion, reduce the risk of infection, and make removal of the tape easy.
The first wrist taping method supports the ligament and restricts wrist movement to a reasonable degree. You will need two pieces of tape, with one being half the size of the other. To begin:
- Splay your fingers as wide as possible to acquire the full length of your wrist.
- Take the longer strip of tape that has been split at the top somewhere in the middle.
- Take one part of the tape around the split and 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 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 form as anchorage.
This other method is a preventative one; you will need about four strips of tape. These are the few steps you have to take:
- Apply the first strip around your forearm and another around your palm. Both will serve as anchors.
- Apply the third strip on the palm side of your wrist and the fourth on the other side.
- Apply more tape in a figure-eight fashion to further secure the tape.
None of these techniques can be effective without using quality taping products. Hampton Adams is a company that promises only quality; you can visit their website to get all your taping products.