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Wrist Specialists 101

Wrist Specialists

The decision to see a doctor for wrist pain is important, and the type of orthopedic doctor you will need will depend on what kind of injury you have. Many injuries can occur in the wrist, but people commonly experience either carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. The symptoms vary greatly depending on which injury it is.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by numbness and tingling in the hand extending into the fingers. At the same time, tendonitis produces pain at night when trying to sleep or during activities such as lifting weights or playing sports.

Is There a Wrist Specialist?

Yes, there are orthopedic wrist specialists. Usually, when your doctor suspects carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, they will refer you to an orthopedic wrist specialist for further testing and treatment. Suppose the injury was due to trauma such as falling on your arm.

In that case, it may be seen by a general practitioner who could make a diagnosis and treat with anti-inflammatory medication. Pain due to arthritis is usually treated by a rheumatologist specializing in treating joint pain and disorders.

When Should You See an Orthopedic Wrist Specialist?

You should see an orthopedic surgeon when you have any wrist pain that has not gone away with rest or anti-inflammatory medications for over three weeks.

Orthopedic Wrist Specialist vs. General Practitioner

There is no difference between orthopedic wrist specialists and general practitioners regarding diagnosis, but there are differences in treatment. Orthopedic wrist specialists are more likely to recommend surgery if your injury is severe or does not respond well to other treatments.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the surgeon may cut the transverse carpal ligament, which would release pressure on the nerve causing tingling pain. A general practitioner will most likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, or muscle relaxants to treat the pain. If you have tendonitis, they might prescribe physical therapy exercises and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Orthopedic Wrist Specialist vs.Physical Therapist

There is no difference between orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists when treating carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis. A physical therapist will help you strengthen the muscles in your forearm to take pressure off of your wrist or teach you exercises that you can do at home to stretch out the tendons and increase mobility. They may also prescribe braces for support if they feel it is necessary.

Wrist Specialist vs. Rheumatologist

There is a difference between orthopedic wrist specialists and rheumatologists when it comes to the treatment of arthritis. A rheumatologist will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, or other treatments that can reduce pain from inflammation. They may also refer you for physical therapy if your joints are stiff and need strengthening exercises to help increase mobility.

Orthopedic surgeons are more likely to recommend surgery if your joints are severely damaged or not respond well to other treatments.

Wrist Specialist vs. Chiropractor?

There is no difference between orthopedic wrist specialists and chiropractors regarding diagnosis, but there are differences in treatment. Wrist specialists are more likely to recommend surgery if your injury is severe or not respond well to other treatments. Chiropractors will refer you for physical therapy when they feel that the spine needs an adjustment to reduce pain and increase mobility in joints affected by arthritis.

Common Types of Wrist Pain and Injuries

There are many different types of wrist injuries, and they can range from a sprain or fracture to carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. If you have severe pain, have not gone away with rest for over three weeks, if your hand feels numb or tingly, then it may be time to see an orthopedic wrist specialist so they can give appropriate treatment.

Wrist Sprains and Fractures

Suppose you have a wrist sprain or fracture. In that case, it may be seen by your general practitioner first, who could make a diagnosis and treat with anti-inflammatory medications, surgical tape, casting for fractures to reduce pain and swelling, brace/splint if necessary. The doctor will refer you to physical therapy if your wrist is stiff or needs strengthening exercises.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor may cut the transverse carpal ligament, which would release pressure on the nerve causing tingling pain. They will most likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, or muscle relaxants to treat the pain. They may also prescribe physical therapy exercises and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Tendinitis

Orthopedic wrist specialists are more likely to recommend surgery if your injury is severe or does not respond well to other treatments. If you have tendonitis, they might prescribe physical therapy exercises and anti-inflammatory medications.

Arthritis

If you have arthritis, rheumatologists will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, or other treatments that can reduce pain from inflammation. They may also refer you for physical therapy if your joints are stiff and need strengthening exercises to help increase mobility.

It is important to understand the difference between orthopedic wrist specialists and other doctors regarding diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis.

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