11 Ways To Treat Wrist Pain, Straight From The Pros

It's all about ergonomics.

Experts share 11 wrist pain relief products to snag if you're feeling aches or tension.
Getty Images/Morsa Images

There are so many causes of wrist pain that there’s a high chance you’ve experienced it at one point in time. Whether it’s an injury or sprain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or random aches, dealing with a wrist that isn’t functioning at 100% can make it tough to go about your daily life.

If you’re looking for a method of wrist pain relief, it helps to know where yours stems from. “How you treat wrist pain depends on the cause of the pain,” says physical therapist Dr. Dave Candy, DPT. “With sprains, usually rest, ice, and bracing are sufficient to allow the ligaments and cartilage in the wrist to heal. With overuse injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, stretching the forearm muscles or using a keyboard that’s at elbow height can help keep the wrists in a neutral position.” Prevention lies in having an ergonomic setup and regularly practicing wrist stretches.

While you’ll obviously want to see a doctor if you have an injury, many types of wrist pain can be treated at home, says Candy. He recommends wearing a wrist brace for minor aches and pains, taking a break from bothersome activities — aka all that typing — or doing gentle movements for mobility, like the kind you’ll see below. “If the pain lasts longer than two weeks you may want to see a physical therapist to find out what you can do to get it feeling better faster,” he tells Bustle. Otherwise, read on for expert-backed products to snag for wrist pain relief.

We at Bustle only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

The Experts

Dr. Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT is a doctor of physical therapy and owner of More 4 Life physical therapy in St. Louis.

Dr. Demetris Elia is a chiropractor with mobile chiropractic PEAKiropractic in Dallas, Texas.

Rose Heacock-Smith, MOT, OTR/L is an occupational therapist at Athletico’s Urbandale, Iowa location. She serves as the lead for Athletico’s Hand Therapy Team.

1. Wear A Wrist Guard

People with everyday wrist pain only need to wear a wrist brace during strenuous activities, Candy says, like when lifting weights. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may only need to wear one at night. For either scenario, this option from ComfyBrace is adjustable and can be used on the right or left hand.

The slip-on sleeve design works by applying gentle compression to relieve aches from arthritis, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel. Wear it whenever you’re in need of support.

  • Pros: Breathable, easy to use, hand washable, adjustable
  • Cons: One reviewer says it doesn’t offer the best fit

Review: “I am an RN and have severe issues with carpel tunnel for a very long time that wakes me up frequently from sleep and causes pain when trying to lift or crochet,” one reviewer said. “While I know a brace won't eliminate the problem completely, I recommend this one for anyone dealing with this painful and annoying issue, especially during flare-ups.”

Dimensions: 10.75 x 3.9 x 2.13 inches

2. Use A Lumbar Support Pillow

From Elia’s experience as a chiropractor, the most common cause of wrist pain in patients is poor desk ergonomics. “When the biomechanics of the spine, arm, and wrist are not optimal, muscles and ligaments get compromised and develop tightness and discomfort,” she explains. One way to ensure you sit up straight and have good ergonomics — and therefore a healthier posture — is to use a lumbar support pillow, which Elia says will push your lower back into alignment. And sitting up straighter means your wrists won’t have to strain.

  • Pros: Moisture-wicking material, ensures proper alignment of the spine, supports lower back region
  • Cons: Might feel uncomfy at first as it works to correct your posture

Review: “At first, this was kind of uncomfortable, but it really helped me work on my lower back, especially while driving,” one reviewer said. “After moving it around and getting the hang of it, I can now get out of a vehicle after driving for varying lengths of time with no pain whatsoever.”

Dimensions: 11 x 4.75 x 4.75 inches

3. Keep Your Computer Screen At Eye Level

You should also take a look at where your laptop or computer screen is in relation to your eyes. For proper ergonomics, you want your screen to be at eye level; having it below will cause neck discomfort, says Elia. This can trickle down to your wrists and overall body alignment, too.

This laptop stand puts your screen at the proper height and fits all tablets and laptops from 10 to 17 inches, including the MacBook Air and Chromebook. The hollow design allows you to adjust the angle easily, and the silicone pads on the bottom mean it won’t wobble. You can fold it flat to store it, too.

  • Pros: Adjustable, wide compatibility, ventilation prevents overheating
  • Cons: Be careful with heavier laptops as it can only support 13 pounds

Review: As one reviewer noted, “This adjustable laptop stand is exactly what I was looking for. It's a good height so I am not looking down or looking up from screen to screen and it is extremely sturdy.”

Material: Aluminum alloy

4. Use A Wrist Pad

While working, you should also ensure your wrists are flexed slightly downwards about five to 10 degrees, Elia says. That way, you won’t place extra strain on them as you type or use a mouse. One way to ensure the proper angle is by using a wrist pad, like this one that provides soft support to help relieve pressure, fatigue, and pain in your wrists. The pads are made of breathable memory foam and anti-skid natural rubber material.

  • Pros: Comfortable, can help prevent overuse pain syndromes, non-slip
  • Cons: Might not be the best size for a laptop, according to one reviewer

Review: “I am a heavy computer user and my wrists used to get red and irritated and painful after long hours on the computer,” one reviewer wrote. “This has significantly increased my comfort and reduced that irritation amazingly.”

Dimensions: 17.21 x 9.4 x 1.3 inches

5. Use An Ergonomic Mouse

While sitting at a desk, make sure that your elbows are between 70 and 90 degrees of flexion and close to your body, says Heacock-Smith. If you use a mouse, make sure it’s close by so you aren’t reaching. And if you want to go one step farther, pick one that’s ergonomic.

This option encourages a healthy neutral “handshake” position for smoother movements and less overall strain. It features added next/previous buttons for easier webpage browsing, which is great for working, surfing, or gaming.

  • Pros: Keeps hands in the correct position, wireless
  • Cons: One reviewer says the web browsing buttons are uncomfortable to use

Review: “This mouse is so natural to use, and it really does make a difference,” one reviewer wrote. “This mouse has completely gotten rid of any weird feelings or pain I used to get in the tendons/muscles of my hand that I used to get with a traditional mouse.”

Product Weight: 3.4 oz.

6. Keep Items Nearby On Your Desk

Another trick to keep in mind when preventing wrist pain is considering how you reach for things, Heacock-Smith says. If you work at a desk, it’s best to have everything right within reach so you don’t give yourself a repetitive-use injury from pulling open drawers or reaching all day. “Organize commonly used items, such as a telephone and a mouse, close to the body to minimize reaching,” she adds.

Try this desk organizer to keep everything nearby. It features four compartments: The back two are perfect for taller items, like scissors or pencils, while the front two are just the right size for tape, paperclips, or whatever else you need. You can even use it to prop up your phone or organize cables.

  • Pros: Modern design, comes in four colors, has four compartments
  • Cons: Color descriptions may be misleading

Review: “It works great and is very stylish,” a reviewer noted. “It holds a lot of stuff for the size.”

Dimensions: 5 x 4.5 x 4.25 inches

7. Try Icing The Area

For general wrist pain, Heacock-Smith suggests icing the area for five to seven minutes whenever it feels like you overdid it, such as after a long day of typing. This reusable wrist wrap from TheraPAQ can be chilled in the freezer or heated up in the microwave. It’s made of soft, flexible material that stays in place after you wrap it around your wrist for easy use.

  • Pros: Can be used hot or cold, hooks on to stay in place
  • Cons: Heat and cold don’t last very long

Review: “I've suffered from tendonitis on and off for many years as a graphic designer,” said one reviewer. “I have wrist braces to use when things get bad. However, the ThermaPAQ gave me instant relief from the burning, painful wrists in both hands, so I purchased two.”

Material: Neoprene

8. Relax With Heat Therapy

It’s also a good idea to apply heat for up to 10 minutes when your nerves are irritated or your joints are stiff, says Heacock-Smith. Or you can try this trick: “Alternating between ice and heat for two to three minutes each for 20 minutes can increase blood flow and help with healing,” she adds.

This heat pad offers moist-heat therapy, which is a great way to penetrate deep into sore muscles and achy spots. Warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds, place your hand inside, and relax as it slowly returns to room temperature. The cotton fabric is super soft, too.

  • Pros: Easy to heat up, safer than electric heat packs
  • Cons: Doesn’t stay warm for very long

Review: “I bought this for a family member who had a really bad trigger finger and arthritis in both hands,” one reviewer wrote. “He said it offered a huge relief.”

Material: 100% Cotton

Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 6 inches

9. Pay Attention To How You Carry Heavy Items

To prevent wrist pain, it helps to ensure that you’re always using “good body mechanics” when lifting objects, Heacock-Smith says. One trick, particularly when hauling around heavy things like groceries or luggage, is to carry it on a larger joint like your elbow or shoulder instead of your wrist, she says. This will help prevent injuries and overuse strains.

For the job, invest in a cute reusable bag like this one. Instead of shoving everything into flimsy shopping bags, place your food (or whatever your items may be) inside a sturdy wire-framed tote, and then carry it using the shoulder strap. It features thermal insulation to keep your groceries cold or warm as you schlep home from the store.

  • Pros: Holds 30 pounds, snap up design, foldable
  • Cons: Not for use with ice, not leakproof

Review: “I keep finding new uses for the CleverMade SnapBasket Luxe,” wrote one reviewer. “The sturdy baskets can hold so much and then folds down to store away.”

Material: Canvas, vegan leather handles

Dimensions: 18.19" L x 12.13" W x 11.5" H

10. Tape Your Wrists

According to Heacock-Smith, you can also tape your wrists to reduce tissue pressure. Try this elastic sports tape to support your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. If you aren’t sure where to place it, check out this YouTube video that shows how to apply the tape perfectly.

  • Pros: Latex-free, hypoallergenic, lightweight, breathable, comfortable
  • Cons: Can be tricky to use

Review: “I love this stuff,” said a reviewer. “It’s easy to use but might take a little getting used to apply. But there are great videos on [the brand’s] website.”

Material: Elastic

Amount: 20 strips

11. Switch To An Ergonomic Keyboard

Candy recommends switching to an ergonomic keyboard to make sure your wrists stay in a healthy position while typing. This wired option from Perixx offers a split-key 3D design to match the natural way your hands tend to rest. It features an integrated palm rest to support your wrists in a comfortable position, as well as tactile keystrokes for reducing pressure as you type. Just plug it into your computer using a 6-foot USB cable.

  • Pros: Keeps hands and wrists in the correct position
  • Cons: The different design can take a while to get used to

Review: “I am delighted with the results already after just two days,” noted one reviewer. “This keyboard is very comfortable and my typing has improved dramatically due to the ergonomic layout.”

Dimensions: 18.92 x 9.2 x 1.72 inches

Studies referenced:

Shem, K. (2020). Effective self-stretching of carpal ligament for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: A double-blinded randomized controlled study. J Hand Ther. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32362377/

Singh, D. (2017). Effects of Topical Icing on Inflammation, Angiogenesis, Revascularization, and Myofiber Regeneration in Skeletal Muscle Following Contusion Injury. Frontiers in Physiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339266/