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Pain and discomfort in wrist. Had laser eye surgery done. Wrist tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Feb 2014
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 5930 Questions
Hello I am a healthy 28 year old male and this is a long explanation, please bear with me. One of my hobbies is juggling: to keep (several objects, as balls, plates, tenpins, or knives) in continuous motion in the air simultaneously by tossing and catching.) When I juggle 3 and 4 objects I feel okay, but I am learning 5 and this puts a lot of stress on my wrist because I have to move my hands faster. I know that this is just a hobby and the best way to avoid pain is refrain from this activity, but it took me a long time to learn 5, and I want to pursue my hobbies. I am right handed, the pain/discomfort is coming from my LEFT wrist although it should be noted that when juggling 5, both hands are doing the same amount of work. The props that I use are 3 inch silicone juggling balls, and they are very hard to the touch, but I like to use them.
Anyway I stopped juggling entirely about two weeks ago for two reasons. One was to give my wrist a break, and the other was because I had laser eye surgery 5 days ago and I didn't want to get hit in the face and get a swollen eyelid (has happened twice before) before surgery. I tried to do a little research on my own, and I am guessing I may have one or both of the following, or neither. Wrist tendonitis or stress injury. I have been juggling for 2 or 3 years, but the wrist pain only started within the last two months.
To complicate this situation further, my full-time job is remittance (data-entry) and all I do is type on the keyboard for 40 hours a week (I started my job 9 months ago). With regards to work, my right hand (dominant hand) is doing more than 90% of the work because I primarily use the ten-key numerical portion of the keyboard that is located on the far right side. I have no problems with my right hand/wrist and I want to keep it that way. When I type I try to use proper mechanics and posture, and I take breaks, and I use one of those gel/wrist pads for the keyboard also.
But in my opinion it is the juggling that is contributing to the wrist problem because it is in my left wrist that I do not really use at work. Since I stopped juggling a few weeks ago my left wrist feels better. I am okay with not juggling, because keeping my job is more important to me, but I want to prevent whatever is going on with my left wrist to happen to my right wrist, because I might be out of a job then. I would like to keep my job and take preventative measures to avoid wrist injuries. I have been to physical therapy before for my ankles and knee, so I know that they stress range of motion and strength and conditioning, but I want to be able to give an accurate description of my problem to my orthopedist and/or physical therapist. I know that at the moment this is a minor problem, but I want to prevent it from becoming a more serious problem.
Some things that I can think of that might help would be rubbing a tennis ball on my forearm, or getting one of those knobber tools that massage therapists use, or doing some carpal tunnel exercises, but this might not be the problem. The motion I make when juggling is an upward (I think it is flexing) of my wrist. Any youtube video of 5 ball juggling should give you an idea of what it looks like. I guess the pain in my wrist is on THE PINKY SIDE.
It looks like the laser eye surgery was a success, and hopefully I do not need glasses anymore, which is great for juggling, because when I juggle 5 objects my field of vision is above my head the whole time, and the glasses don't do much good when looking up. I know that my left wrist is weaker than my right but I still feel I have enough strength and coordination to juggle 5, it is just the pain/discomfort that makes me stop.
One other minor note that may or may not contribute to this problem: About ten years ago I had a significant left thumb injury when I got hit by a basketball. Nothing was broken, but I never got it checked out and it permanently changed the shape of the big joint on my thumb, it has never been the same since and I know the range of motion was affected, but it does not bother me or cause pain.
One other hobby that I have is typing (yes I know, I'm a nerd) but I am a fast typer (over 100 wpm) and if I get my wrist healthy I would like to pursue this hobby also, but for the time being, the only significant typing I am doing is at work because I have to, I am not typing for fun because I don't want to complicate this wrist situation.
I also like to shoot basketballs a lot even though I haven't done this in the last 8 months, but for some reason all of my hobbies involve making the same repetitive motion over and over, just a thought.
I want to get my wrist healthy so I can start working out again also and doing stuff like pushups, handstands, forward rolls and other activities that put stress on my wrists. ( I haven't attempted a handstand or forward roll in years, so that is not the reason my wrist hurts, and I haven't done push-ups in a long time also)
I feel like this may be a problem I can correct myself without seeking medical attention, but I am not sure how to go about doing that. Some advice would be much appreciated. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Posted Mon, 15 Apr 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 4 hours later
Hi and welcome to XXXXXXX
Thanks for posting your query.

You are right in your diagnosis. It looks like wrist tendonitis. You can settle your tendonitis with appropriate physiotherapy.You should perform specific flexibility and strengthening exercises to get your wrist strong and healthy.
Wrist exercises can help your wrist recover or can even prevent tendonitis from occurring.Even a few minutes of stretches or exercises per hour can bring comfort and restoration.

I advice you to do-

Wrist Stretches
Gently roll your wrists clockwise for 15 seconds, then reverse direction. Go as far into the full range of motion as you can, feeling the stretch as you do so.

Wrist Flexor Stretch
Keeping your elbow straight, take your wrist and fingers backwards using your other hand until you feel a mild to moderate stretch pain free. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.

Extension Exercises
Wrist extension is the opposite of wrist flexion - moving your wrist so that the back of your hand approaches the top of your arm. Wrist extension exercises begin in the same position as the wrist flexion exercises.

Tennis Ball Squeeze
Begin this exercise holding a tennis ball . Squeeze the tennis ball as hard as possible and comfortable without pain. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times provided there is no increase in symptoms.

Continue avoiding juggling for few days and do these exercises regularly. These will help you a lot.

Hope this will help you. Please do write back if you have any additional concerns.

Wishing you good health...
Dr Saurabh Gupta.
Orthopaedic Surgeon.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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