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A repetitive strain injury of the wrist happens when the tendons, muscles or ligaments of the wrist are put through a repetitive movement or task that eventually overloads and puts strain on the underlying structures which can cause pain and discomfort when performing certain movements.


  • Pain and/or achiness in and around the wrist
  • Numbness, pins and needles or tingling
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling

Clinical features

  • Reduced strength of the wrist and hand
  • Pain on movement of the wrist
  • Decreased range of motion of the affected wrist
  • Frequency of pain and timing of pain after aggravating activities

Risk factors/causes

  • In a workforce that requires intricate use of the hands such as; hairdressing, carpentry and other trades that use power tools regularly.
  • Wrist overuse injuries are more likely to occur in sporting and occupational settings due to anatomical variations and repetitive, vigorous action.
  • Wrist injuries can occur secondary to friction, especially in areas where there is increase of pressure, such as crossing tendon regions or retinaculum thickening

Management/treatment and how can a physiotherapist help?

  • Discovering the particular action that makes your symptoms worse will help treat this condition. To lessen the stress passing through your muscles and tendons, you might need to avoid performing the activity altogether or modify it in a particular way.
  • A physiotherapist may treat with manual techniques such as joint mobilisation and soft tissue release if appropriate, to help ease symptoms of pain and regain balance of structures put under strain.
  • We can provide you with a protective guard, such as a wrist brace, which can relieve pressure on the injured area and provide you with additional support.
  • Creating a tailored exercise program to gradually load the wrist again through particular strengthening exercises is important to get the wrist back to its pre-injury level.


  1. Llopis E, Restrepo R, Kassarjian A, Cerezal L. Overuse injuries of the wrist. Radiologic Clinics of North America. 2019;57(5):957-976. doi:10.1016/j.rcl.2019.05.001.