Normal Range of Motion of the Wrist

BMX Biker landing
Close-up of biker's wrists holding on to handle bars. (Image: Nicholas Rjabow/iStock/Getty Images)

The wrist is one of the smaller joints in your body, but it is made up of multiple bones. Two rows of 4 small carpal bones sit at the base of your hand. The bottom row of carpal bones meets the end of the forearm bones, enabling movement in your wrist joint.

Wrist Bending

Forward bending of your wrist is called flexion. This motion is needed for daily activities such as styling your hair, writing, getting dressed, using a screwdriver and lifting heavy objects. Normal wrist flexion is approximately 70 to 90 degrees. Extension -- backward bending of your wrist -- is necessary for opening your car door, pushing a door closed, pressing up on the arms of a chair and driving. Normal wrist extension is approximately 65 to 85 degrees.

Wrist Deviation

Your wrist joint deviates -- or tilts -- from side to side. Ulnar deviation tilts your wrist toward the pinkie side of your hand. Radial deviation tilts your wrist toward the thumb side of your hand. These movements are used frequently during the day as you type, write, get dressed and talk on the phone. Normal ulnar deviation is approximately 25 to 40 degrees, while radial deviation is approximately 15 to 25 degrees.

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