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Why Does My Wrist Hurt When I Do a Pushup?

author image Roseanne Omalacy
Roseanne Omalacy became a published author and freelance writer in 2006. She is the author of several novels and has been published with Literary Partners Group, Alyson Publishing and "Scarlet Magazine." She is a Pittsburgh health and relationships columnist, holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from Pennsylvania State University and has over 15 years of nursing experience.
Why Does My Wrist Hurt When I Do a Pushup?
Pushups can cause wrist pain Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many sports enthusiasts experience wrist pain at one time or another. If your wrist hurts while doing pushups, you may have an underlying medical condition. During pushups, your body weight is transferred to your feet and hands, resulting in a lot of pressure on the supportive tissues in the wrists. Fitness enthusiasts often perform repetitive motions while exercising, which can also contribute to common conditions that cause wrist pain while doing pushups. Always see a physician to determine the exact cause of your wrist pain.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes wrist pain due to pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve supplies feeling to the hand and travels through a narrow passageway called the carpal tunnel. Pushups can put pressure on the wrists and compress the median nerve, resulting in carpal tunnel symptoms. You may experience numbness and tingling in the fingers or palm of the hand, a weakened grip and wrist pain that extends up to the elbow. The condition is treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and wrist splints, but surgery is sometimes necessary for severe carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Wrist Tendinitis

Tendons are the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bone. Wrist tendinitis is an irritation and inflammation of the tendon sheath caused by repetitive strain or over-extension of the tendons in the wrist. Tendinitis is a common cause of wrist pain and swelling for sports enthusiasts. You may experience a sharp or aching pain when bending the wrist or applying pressure to the area. Tendinitis pain often occurs suddenly and increases with movement, such as the bending and twisting of the wrists during certain exercises. Treatment includes resting the inflamed wrist, cold compresses and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation and swelling.

Wrist Sprains

Weight bearing on the arms puts a lot of pressure and strain on the wrists, sometimes resulting in stretched or torn ligaments. Wrist sprains occur when the ligaments in the wrist that join one bone to another become strained or injured. You can sprain multiple ligaments in the wrist due to excessive loading or force on the wrists, such as when doing pushups. You may experience pain, stiffness, bruising and swelling in the wrist area, following an acute sprain. Some wrist sprains are severe enough to require surgery, but most sprains can be treated with rest, ice, compression wraps and splinting the injured wrist.


Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis of the fingers, hands and wrists. The wrist is made up of a small hinge joint supported by delicate tissues. There are two kinds of arthritis that affect the wrist, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both conditions cause pain, stiffness and weakness of the wrist joint. Pushups add additional pressure on the wrists and can cause a flareup of arthritis in the wrist joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease treated with immune-suppressing drugs. Osteoarthritis is a more common form of arthritis and is treated with steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medicines.

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