Can you bench press without a problem, but when it comes to pushups, you always get pain in only one wrist? And it’s enough pain to screw up the set.

“Pain in one wrist during pushups, or other weight bearing exercises, can be caused by a number of issues, but it almost always is due to a problem with a tendon or ligament,” says J. Mark Anderson, MD, DABFM, of Executive Medicine of Texas and who is board certified in family medicine.

“When pain is experienced in one wrist, it may be due to tendonitis, like what is seen in carpal tunnel syndrome, or other inflammatory conditions.”

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, however, there’s a pretty good chance that you experience symptoms at times other than during exercise.

For example, your fingers may tingle or be numb; and flexing the wrist (bending the hand towards the underside of your forearm) triggers pain. There may also be spontaneous pain in the forearm.

More Likely Cause of Pain in One Wrist While Doing Pushups

“In some cases, patients may have a ganglion cyst around the wrist, hand or forearm area,” says Dr. Anderson.

“This is a non-cancerous fluid filled sac that is usually not painful on its own, but when they press on a nerve, it can cause sharp, radiating pains.”


One of the distinguishing characteristics of a ganglion cyst is that the pain immediately stops when the offending activity ceases.

A ganglion cyst can sometimes be seen as a lump somewhere on the wrist (though they can appear elsewhere on the hand). It feels rather rubbery and gives when you press into it.

The only way to get rid of it is needle aspiration by a doctor or, if that fails, surgery.

If you have one of these and it’s causing pain in one wrist during pushups, it’s probably not going to get much worse, but don’t be surprised if every so often, it can be felt while bench pressing or doing horizontal chest presses on a machine.

Solution to Pain in One Wrist from Doing Pushups

Here is a solution if the cause is a ganglion cyst.

I’ve had one of these for many years, and I’ve always been a fan of pushups.

The slam-dunk solution is to use pushup handles, or hold dumbbells by their stem or kettlebells by their handles.

This 100 percent solves the problem., pressfoto

Furthermore, using handles or dumbbells allows you to go deeper into the movement, recruiting more chest muscle.

Dr. Anderson is coauthor of the award-winning book, “Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health,” and host of the nationally syndicated Staying Young Show which goes to podcast as Staying Young Show 2.0.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 
Top image: Racool_studio