The Cardinals announced the move before their game against Philadelphia. The three-time All-Star has been bothered by the elbow most of the season and is on the DL for second time this year.
"Adam is a different sort of equation right now," said John Mozeliak, the team's President of Baseball Operations. "Obviously being placed on the 60, it's clearly hitting the pause button."
The Cardinals also put catcher Carson Kelly on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, a setback for a team already without the injured Yadier Molina behind the plate. Catcher Steve Baron was called up from Triple-A Memphis.
Wainwright, 36, went on the 10-day disabled list on Monday, a day after struggling in a start at San Diego. He walked six in 2⅓ innings, giving up two runs and three hits in his first start since April 17.
"We just need time to get it healed up," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "The doctors are still running tests, too."
Wainwright is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts. He has walked 14 in 18 innings.
Wainwright underwent arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 3 to trim a small piece of cartilage from his elbow.
Kelly, 23, was hitting .111 since being called up on May 6 following Molina's late-night surgery after being hit by a foul ball in the groin.
Baron was 0-for-11 with Seattle in 2015 in his only major league action.