You know that pain indicates a problem, but how do you know when it’s serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor?
At Neil Ghodadra, MD, we hear about this dilemma a lot. At-home care is often sufficient for minor bumps and bruises, but certain types of pain need expert care. To help you figure out which is which, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you determine when your hand or wrist pain calls for Dr. Ghodadra’s expert care.
What’s causing your hand or wrist pain?
The first place to start in determining whether your hand or wrist pain needs professional help is to identify exactly what’s causing the problem. Sometimes the source of pain is obvious, such as a fall or an accident, or even a long day of manual labor. If you know what happened, it’s easier to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan.
If you know you’ve overused your hands and wrists, for example, you likely just need to rest them and apply some ice to reduce inflammation. If, however, you used your hands to break a fall, you may have fractured a bone that needs to be set and immobilized.
Persistent hand and wrist joint discomfort often indicates arthritis, but it can also be a sign of tendinitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or De Quervain’s disease, a painful problem that affects the tendons in the thumb side of your wrist. After a thorough evaluation and diagnosis, Dr. Ghodadra can help relieve your symptoms and improve function with proper treatment.
If you don’t know what’s causing your hand or wrist pain, it may be an infection or a problem with your nerves, both of which require professional care.
How bad is the pain?
Dr. Ghodadra often asks our patients to assess their pain on a scale from 1-10, so he can get a better picture of the seriousness of the condition. If you’d rank your pain at a 6 or above, it’s time to come see Dr. Ghodadra.
You can also triage your hand and wrist pain just like we do here at our office. Check for swelling and stiffness, look for discoloration, and find out if it hurts more when you press on it. If these symptoms are present, especially if coupled with a high pain level, see Dr. Ghodadra as soon as possible.
How long has the pain persisted?
Severe pain is an obvious clue you should see a doctor, but even minor pain can signal a serious problem if it won’t go away.
Most injuries begin to heal on their own, and the pain subsides or gradually decreases over the next few days. If your hand or wrist pain hangs on for weeks or months, you may have an underlying issue that needs medical attention.
How to treat hand and wrist pain at home
If your hand or wrist pain is mild, you know what caused it, and it just began, treat it at home with the PRICE method: protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen can also take the edge off as you heal.
How we treat hand and wrist pain
If at-home remedies aren’t working, it’s another indication that you need next-level care.
After Dr. Ghodadra performs diagnostic tests and determines exactly what’s causing your hand or wrist pain, he develops a personalized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and resolve the underlying problem. This may include bracing or splinting your wrist to promote healing, and prescribing physical therapy exercises to increase blood flow, improve function, and restore full mobility.
In some cases, Dr. Ghodadra may recommend regenerative medicine to introduce growth factors and platelets into your injured tissue, which accelerates healing and reduces painful inflammation.
If surgery becomes necessary, you're in good hands with Dr. Ghodadra, who specializes in advanced surgical techniques and served as the team physician for both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bulls.
If your hand or wrist pain needs more help than you can handle on your own, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ghodadra by calling either of our two offices in Thousand Oaks or Los Angeles, California, or by booking online.