Wrist Flexion Pain- Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Wrist Flexion is bending the hand and wrist so that the palm faces the underside of the arm. It belongs to the normal range of movement of the wrist. If the bending of your wrist is regular, then the muscles, bones, and tendons that make up your wrist function as they should. However, certain health conditions may stop you from being able to flex your wrist.

What Is Wrist Flexion?

Stretching is part of a standard range of movement of the wrist. Flexion is the opposite of extension.

When you flex your wrist, your palm stretches to the underside of your arm. When you create an extension of the wrist, you raise your hand upwards. The image below shows the difference between wrist flexion and extension:

wrist flexion and extension
Wrist flexion and extension diagram.

Wrist Flexion Pain

If you do not have normal wrist flexion or extension, you may have problems with daily tasks that affect the wrist or hand.

The most common cause of wrist pain (pain when bending the wrist) is overuse of the wrist. This can be caused by repetitive movements such as those played in sports such as tennis or long periods spent on a computer. Other causes of wrist flexion pain may include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This type of carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by an increased pressure on the median nerve that flows through a passage in the palm or at the side of the wrist. This pressure can cause pain. In most cases, it is a kind of overuse injury.
  • Ganglion cysts: Ganglion cysts can disappear by themselves but must be removed if surgery is necessary. These are soft cysts that occur on the top of the wrists. They do not cause symptoms or visible bumps but can be painful and usually prevent your wrist from moving.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain in wrist flexion. It can cause pain in one or both wrists. It is more common for the pain to be caused by rheumatoid arthritis rather than osteoarthritis.
  • Injury or trauma to the wrist: Sudden impact injuries or traumas to the wrists, such as a fall that causes you to land on the wrist, can cause wrist flexure pain. You may need an X-ray to rule out a sprain or fracture.
wrist flexion pain
Repetitive strain injury caused by working on a computer can cause wrist flexion pain.


Your doctor will take a general medical history and ask you about any problems with the flexion of your wrist. To narrow down possible causes, your doctor may ask about recent injuries, hobbies, or what you do outside and for work. They may also ask whether the pain is worse at different times of the day or has worsened over time.

Your doctor can measure how much you move your wrist by asking you to perform a series of movements. This will help them to see if your wrist flexure is affected.

A physical examination and medical history should be enough for your doctor to diagnose. If your doctor is unsure or you have recently had an injury, they may suggest an X-ray or MRI to diagnose the problem.

wrist xray
Your doctor may order further tests if you have had an injury.

Wrist Tendonitis

Wrist tendonitis (spelt tendinitis) is an inflammation of one or more tendons in the wrist. The inflammation can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, stiffness, and warmth in the wrists.

Motions like opening and closing the hand bending or twisting the wrist in one (or more) directions can be painful. It can also be caused by small (micro) tears in the tendons due to sudden or repeated injuries.

Wrist tendonitis is often misdiagnosed instead of Tendinosis (also spelled Tendonosis).

Tendinosis is a chronic condition that is non-inflammatory. Instead the collagen fibers of the wrist tendon begin to break down and degenerate. This is caused by excessive overuse that has not had time to heal.

Tendinosis has similar symptoms to wrist tendonitis, including pain, weakness, and stiffness. Tendinosis and Tendonitis are caused by repetitive use, but Tendinosis is more severe.

causes of wrist pain
Causes of wrist pain diagram by Very Well Health.

Treatment And Exercises

Gentle stretching and flexibility exercises are a great way to improve wrist mobility and build strength. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist before trying these exercises to ensure no further injury is caused:

Flexion and extension of wrist: With your arm lying flat on a table, hang your wrist and hand over the edge. Keep palms faced down. Gently raise and release just your hand. Hold for a few seconds and repeat ten times. You may use a lightweight for added intensity.

dumbbell wrist flexion
Image showing wrist flexion and extension exercise using a dumbbell.

Side-to-side wrist bends: This one is straightforward. You bend your wrist from left to right while your palm remains flat. It is known as a radial to ulnar wrist deviation. Hold the position on each side for a few seconds if you can. Repeat ten times on each side.

wrist bends
Image showing radial to ulnar wrist deviation.

Flexion and extension stretch: This one is similar to the first exercise but without a table. Hold the wrist in an extension position with the arm extended straight. You can use your other hand to support the wrist. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat the same stretch with a flexion wrist position. You can do this also at the side.

wrist stretch
Image showing wrist flexion and extension stretch assisted by the other hand.

The exercises listed above can help to treat problems with wrist flexion. Other treatments include:

  • icing the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
  • adjust your wrist seating position if the problem is caused by typing or other repetitive office work
  • rest if repetitive movements cause the problem
  • use splints and wrist supports
  • visit a physical therapist
  • surgery for Ganglion cysts, carpel tunnel syndrome, and injuries
  • corticosteroid injections

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