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Introduction: In wrist arthroplasty, the damaged portions of the wrist bones are removed and replaced with artificial components.
Function: To relieve pain as well as to restore and maintain function of the wrist and hand and to help improve range of motion.
History of Injury: Although some people may need wrist arthroplasty after an injury, more often, the procedure is performed on people who are dealing with the effects of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Diagnosis: Your orthopedic surgeon will ask you questions about your general health as well as your wrist pain and how it is impacting your ability to function. He or she will also perform a physical exam to assess the strength, range of motion, and condition of your wrist. To better understand the damage, your surgeon will have X-rays taken of your wrist.
Treatment: Wrist arthroplasty if your condition is severe or a nonsurgical option if your orthopedic surgeon recommends it.
Initial: Before recommending wrist arthroplasty, your orthopedic surgeon may suggest other treatments, such as taking anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, or wearing a splint, in addition to avoiding activities that could make your symptoms worse.
Long Term: If nonsurgical treatments are not helpful or no longer relieve pain, wrist arthroplasty could be a good option for you.
Indications for Surgery: If you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis and your wrist pain is interfering with your daily life—even while you are resting—you may be a good candidate for wrist arthroplasty. If you have post-traumatic arthritis due to an injury, you may also benefit from wrist arthroplasty.
Surgery: Wrist arthroplasty is an outpatient procedure. After you are given anesthesia, your orthopedic surgeon will make an incision on the back of your hand and wrist. The tendons over the back of your wrist are then moved to access your wrist joint area. The damaged ends of your lower arm bones will then be removed, and the first row of carpal bones may also be removed to make room for the artificial joint. Next, small holes are created in your hand bones and the radius bone of your forearm in order to place the artificial joint. The stems of the joint are then permanently secured in place, the tendons are returned to their proper position, and the opening is closed.
Post-Operation: You will go to a recovery room where you will be monitored. For the first few weeks, you will need to wear a cast, and will need to follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions for performing finger and wrist exercises to help you heal properly.
Rehabilitation: After your cast is removed, you will need to wear a splint for approximately six weeks to two months. Your orthopedic surgeon will also give you exercises you must do to help your wrist heal properly.
Risks and Complications: As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection or blood clots. You should also avoid heavy lifting or hard manual labor.
Summary: You should seek out an experienced orthopedic surgeon to perform your wrist arthroplasty. This clinician should not only be skilled at performing the surgery but also have the ability to accurately assess the extent of the damage prior to surgery.