Clicking wrists: What are the possible causes?

There are various causes of clicking wrists that you should be familiar with such as arthritis, injuries or wrist instability. It is important to note that clicking wrists might not be serious but it might also require surgery in some cases. The doctor will determine the exact cause of clicking wrists and recommend a suitable course of treatment.


Injuries to the ligaments are the common causes for clicking wrists. Once the ligaments are torn or completely severed, the bones in the wrist might rub against each other which produce a clicking sound once the wrist is moved. Another distinctive feature of a ligament injury is intense pain. The doctor will manage torn or damaged ligaments by applying a cast or splint or even surgically repairing the affected ligament.


Certain types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis affect many individuals as they age. Once the cartilage responsible for protecting the ends of the bones in between the wrists wears down over time, the wrist will start to produce clicking sounds during movement.

Clicking wrists

Injuries to the ligaments are the common causes for clicking wrists.

Remember that there is no cure for osteoarthritis, but anti-inflammatory medications and steroids can be used to minimize the pain and swelling in the wrists. In severe cases, the doctor might recommend surgery to help reconstruct the wrist.

Can wrist instability cause clicking wrists?

Congenital malformations or injuries to the wrists can cause the bones to incorrectly line up which results to the clicking sound and rubbing sensation. The treatment for instability depends on the affected bones and whether the range of motion is affected. Nevertheless, surgery to correct the alignment of bones is the typical mode of treatment especially in cases where there is limited capability to move the wrist.

When to consult a doctor

If an individual experiences clicking wrists, a doctor should be consulted for proper assessment. In most cases, the affected wrist might not require treatment, especially if the clicking sensation is not accompanied by swelling, pain or issues with wrist movement.

Nevertheless, if the individual develops swelling or issues while moving the wrist or if there is pain, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. There are also some problems such as ligament injuries that are easier to manage if detected early.


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