What is Wrist Abscess & How is it Treated?

What is Wrist Abscess?

An abscess is a pathological condition in which there is development of a cavity within the lining of tissues in which pus develops. This is usually caused by a bacterial infection. An abscess may be formed anywhere in the body. When there is an abscess formation in the wrist then it is termed as Wrist Abscess. A Wrist Abscess can form after a direct blow or trauma to the wrist like a gunshot wound to the wrist or a cut by a knife. A Wrist Abscess may also develop as a result of perioperative complications like infection or damage to a nerve, artery, or vessel at the time of surgery. The most common surgery done to the wrist is a surgical procedure to correct carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Wrist Abscess

A wrist abscess may make it difficult for an individual to move the wrist fluidly. It may also make it difficult for him or her to grip and grasp objects. Some wrist abscesses may also be painful. The best way to treat wrist abscess is by draining the pus, which forms the abscess followed by a course of antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria causing the condition. The pus can be drained by a needle or by making a small incision at the site of the abscess under a local anesthetic and draining the pus. Diligent followup with the treating physician is necessary to ensure that the patient has completely cured from wrist abscess.

What Causes Wrist Abscess?

A Wrist Abscess may be caused by numerous conditions like a trauma or injury to the wrist like by a gunshot wound or by a sharp object like a knife causing a deep cut, which injure the nerves and vessels resulting in development of wrist abscess. A retained foreign object within the wrist may also be a cause of wrist abscess. Perioperative infections are also one of the causes of wrist abscess. A skin infection which may spread deep within the tissues may also be a cause for wrist abscess.

What are the Symptoms of Wrist Abscess?

Some of the symptoms of Wrist Abscess are:

  • Pain around the lump on the wrist.
  • Peeling of skin around the Wrist Abscess.
  • Ulceration of the skin around the Wrist Abscess.
  • There may also be swelling noted around the wrist due to Wrist Abscess along with warmth and redness.
  • An individual with Wrist Abscess may have a general sense of feeling unwell and may get fatigued easily.

How is Wrist Abscess Diagnosed?

To begin with, the patient will have to give a detailed history to the treating physician as to when the symptoms started and what has been the duration of the symptoms. The patient will also have to inform whether there has been any injury or trauma to the wrist as of recent. A prior history of surgery to the wrist is also helpful in ascertaining whether the individual may be suffering from a wrist abscess. Once a history is obtained and the physician suspects a Wrist Abscess, then radiological studies of the wrist area in the form of CT or MRI scans may be done which will confirm the diagnosis of Wrist Abscess.

How is Wrist Abscess Treated?

If the wrist abscess is caused due to a bacterial infection, then antibiotics are the way to go to treat wrist abscess. Before embarking on treatment with antibiotics physicians will first attempt to drain the pus. This will be done either by a needle if the site of the abscess is accessible and if not then an incision will have to be made under local anesthetic and the pus will have to be drained. Any retained metallic object such as a bullet if still present will have to be removed. Once the pus has been drained completely off of the Wrist Abscess then a rigorous course of antibiotics will be prescribed to the patient.

The patient will have to diligently follow the physician’s instruction and complete the course of antibiotics to prevent any recurrences of Wrist Abscess. An untreated Wrist Abscess may result in complications where the infection spreads to other parts of the body causing serious complications, which may need emergent medical attention. Thus, it is always advisable to consult with a physician whenever an individual notices a lump in the wrist which is hampering his or her activities of daily living and not going away.

In cases if Wrist Abscess is caused by MRSA, which is a type of bacterium that is resistant to most of the common antibiotics, stronger antibiotics will have to be used to treat it.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 11, 2017

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