Woman sitting outside in the winter with her husband drinking hot coffee in a ManuLoc wrist braceWoman sitting outside in the winter with her husband drinking hot coffee in a ManuLoc wrist brace

How to Manage Wrist Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain. And when it’s in the wrist, it can make regular daily activities like cleaning and writing difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to manage this condition and slow its progression. 

Anatomy of arthritis in the wrist 

To better manage the condition, it’s essential to understand how it affects the wrist. To that end, there are a few types of wrist arthritis and several joint spaces that can be affected. Midcarpal arthritis occurs only in between the carpal bones. Radiocarpal arthritis, meanwhile, appears in the space where carpal bones meet the large forearm bones. And distal radioulnar arthritis occurs where the radius meets the ulna in the wrist. 

Any one, two or all areas may be affected. Cartilage degeneration itself is most commonly caused by: 

  • Gradual degeneration (osteoarthritis). Natural wear and tear over time wear down wrist cartilage. 
  • Injury (posttraumatic arthritis). According to The Hand Society, the most common types of injuries that lead to wrist arthritis are distal radius and scaphoid fractures and scapholunate and triangular fibrocartilage complex ligament injuries. In the former, uneven bone surfaces grate against cartilage. In the latter, the wrist can stop moving correctly, leading to more stress on the cartilage. 
  • Autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis). Here, your body’s immune system malfunctions and starts attacking healthy cartilage tissue.  

Common symptoms include wrist pain, stiffness,  localised swelling, and difficulty gripping objects. In rheumatoid arthritis, these symptoms may also be accompanied by swelling in the fingers. 

In the later stages of arthritis, bone spurs may develop and irritate nerves, resulting in tingling and numbness. Severity can vary drastically from case to case, depending on how far the condition has progressed. So, as you can imagine, it’s best to catch and start managing the condition as early as possible to slow degeneration. 


How to relieve wrist arthritis pain


First, pinpoint activities that cause flare-ups and modify them. This may include spreading heavy loads by carrying them in both hands instead of one. You can also focus on using stronger and healthier joints like the shoulder more - for example, instead of carrying a heavy grocery bag in your hand, pull the straps over your shoulder. Buy pre-cut fruits and veggies to reduce potentially straining hand movements. 

You can also find loads of hand aids online, from larger grips for small, difficult-to-pick-up objects like forks and keys to finger grippers for ballpoint pens. These may take some time to get used to, but they will save your hands a lot of pain and trouble in the long term. 



Person sitting at a desk clenching their fist, a good exercise for wrist arthritis

While it's crucial to modify daily activities to reduce stress on the arthritic joint, you should still do a few minutes of hand exercises daily to maintain muscle strength and mobility. Unfortunately, the weaker and stiffer the muscle, the more pain you may feel down the line. 

Some easy exercises to try include: 


  • Place your hand pinky side down on a table
  • Hook your fingers down toward your palm as far as is comfortable
  • You should not be bending the knuckles - only the finger joints
  • Return to the starting position
  • Repeat 10-15 times


  • Place your hand pinky side down on a table
  • Slowly curl your hand into a fist, then release
  • Repeat 10-15 times

Thumb flexion

  • Bend your thumb towards the bottom of your pinky finger, then relax
  • Repeat 10-15 times

    Wrist flexion and extension

    • For wrist flexion, place your hand flat on the table with your palm facing up. Bend your hand up toward your forearm as far as is comfortable. 
    • For wrist extension, place your palm flat on the table with your palm facing down. Bend your hand up toward your forearm as far as is comfortable.
    • Repeat each exercise 10-15 times.



    Woman wearing Buaerfeind's ManuTrain Wrist brace while cooking in the kitchen to manage wrist arthritis pain

    ManuTrain Wrist Support 


    A quality wrist brace can go a long way to relieving arthritis pain. Depending on the brace’s design, they may do so by activating the muscles, externally supporting the wrist, or actively massaging away pain and stiffness (or some combination of the above). 

    In the ManuTrain Wrist Brace: 

    • Medical grade compression knit activates your muscles and improves joint proprioception, which arthritis is known to dampen. With your muscles working better to support the joint, you’ll feel less pain and stiffness as you go about your day. 
    • The knit also reduces the production of edemas (your body’s inflammatory agents) to reduce swelling.
    • Viscoelastic pads to massage the wrist. These work to reduce pain and relieve tension 
    • An anatomical and adjustable wrist strap will provide external support to the joint, reducing the load of many daily activities.

    Do note, though; the ManuTrain is best for milder cases and earlier stages of the condition. If your wrist arthritis has progressed into the moderate or severe stage, a sprint support like the ManuLoc may be required to support the joint better. Fortunately, unlike a cast (or a cheaper mass-produced splint), the ManuLoc

    • Is easy to remove and slip on 
    • Provides ample support for the wrist joint while still allowing for regular hand movement
    • Has anatomically shaped splints and adjustable straps for the perfect fit and to accommodate the swelling common to the condition
    • And has a soft, padded lining, so you won’t be itching to remove the brace after a few hours of wear. 



    Heat packs and warm baths are a great way to relieve muscle stiffness and associated pain. Try warming up your wrist for 20-30 minutes a couple of times a day when you feel the stiffness is at its worst. 


    See a physio or occupational therapist 

    These professionals can do a number of things for your condition, including: 

    • Massaging your wrist to relieve tension 
    • Gently improving the joint’s mobility 
    • Giving you a tailored exercise plan 
    • And providing tailored techniques and device recommendations to avoid pain in daily activities.


    Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers

    With a GP or physiotherapist’s guidance, you can try NSAIDs to help curb the worst of your wrist arthritis pain and swelling. Your clinician may recommend a topical cream like Voltaren and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen. 

    In more severe cases, they may recommend an ultrasound-guided cortisone shot.  


    Dietary changes

    Plate of Mediterranean food, good for reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

    The jury is still out on the effectiveness of certain foods and supplements for managing arthritis wrist pain. But, there are some resources and studies that have shown interesting results. 

    • An experimental study on rheumatoid arthritis found that a Mediterranean diet helped participants combat inflammation. 
    • Arthritis Australia notes that there has been some promising research on fish oil - specifically, it can reduce the severity of symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis and wrist osteoarthritis. Similarly, a review published in Rheumatology notes that fish oils have effectively reduced pain in some clinical trials.
    • And in a more general approach, that same review notes that eating or supplementing with more vitamin K and D can improve cartilage health and muscle function.

    To sum up 

    Wrist arthritis pain can be difficult to live with. Fortunately, with a few changes, you can manage it and even slow the condition’s progression. Simple steps like using heat packs, modifying some activities, and taking a few minutes a day to exercise your hands and wrists go a long way. And when combined with physiotherapy and bracing, you can go even further. 


    More Information

    If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.

    Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind products. Check to see if yours is included: Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry


    Bauerfeind was founded in 1929, and since then, we've worked tirelessly to develop and improve our extensive range of award-winning braces, insoles, and compression products. Our mission is to provide you with top-of-the-line supports so you can reach your fitness goals or live life without pain holding you back.

    Every product is designed and produced entirely in our innovation and manufacturing facilities in Germany with the guidance of doctors, clinics, and orthopaedic technicians and are trusted by athletes worldwide.

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