Arthritis of the Wrist

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What is Arthritis of the Wrist?

In any part of the body inflicted by arthritis, there is inflammation in one or multiple joints. Arthritis of the wrist, then, is characterized by inflammation within the wrist joint.

Many types of arthritis can occur in the wrist. A healthy wrist allows your bones to easily move past each other thanks to a protective layer of cartilage. However, when that cartilage breaks down because of your arthritis, the bones are made to painfully rub against each other, causing irreparable joint damage.

Whom Does Wrist Arthritis Affect?

Wrist arthritis can impact nearly anyone. Of course, there are some risk factors that may indicate an increased likelihood of developing the condition.
Those who have previously had a wrist injury or trauma are more likely to develop arthritis in this area. If your job requires frequent use and pressure on the wrist, arthritis may develop. Older patients (typically 40 years old and older) are at an increased risk of arthritis compared to their younger counterparts.

Patients with autoimmune diseases may also find that they’re more likely to develop wrist arthritis. In these cases, the immune cells attack cartilage throughout the body, causing it to break down. This condition is referred to as “inflammatory arthritis.” Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is one of the most common forms of inflammatory arthritis.

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis of the Wrist?

Some patients with wrist arthritis experience no symptoms at all. However, for the majority of patients, pain in the wrist will be the first sign of an issue.
Other prominent wrist arthritis symptoms include swelling of the wrist, a reduced range of motion when moving the wrist, and joint weakness and stiffness. Some patients may have mild symptoms, while for others, the symptoms are more severe. Some may even notice that their symptoms come and go over time.

If you’ve been experiencing any of the above symptoms on a regular basis, it’s best to consult an orthopedic doctor for a potential diagnosis.

How is Wrist Arthritis Treated?

Unfortunately, doctors haven’t yet found a cure for arthritis. However, there are several treatment methods that bring relief to many patients.
In the beginning, you’ll use a series of nonsurgical wrist arthritis treatment methods to reduce your pain and increase function. Your doctor may recommend that you limit or stop the activities that are the most painful. You may also benefit from wearing a splint, which can keep your joint in place and reduce some of the stress it experiences during daily tasks.

Medications are also often used to reduce pain. NSAID pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can reduce swelling and pain and can often be purchased at your local pharmacy. For more severe cases, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Arthritis of the Wrist Surgical Treatment Options

For some patients, wrist arthritis doesn’t improve with the use of nonsurgical treatment methods. In these severe cases, surgery may be necessary to bring about any significant improvements.

There are several procedures your doctor may discuss with you to treat your arthritis. First, you may undergo a fusion. In this procedure, your doctor will fuse the bones together and allow them to heal into one bone. While this method can address pain, it may leave you with limited mobility.
Another option is proximal row carpectomy. This procedure is performed in the row of bones that sit closest to the forearm. Your doctor will remove three of these small bones, helping to relieve your wrist pain without sacrificing your range of motion.

Some extensive arthritis cases will require a total joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty. Your doctor will take the damaged bone and cartilage out of your wrist and replace them with plastic or metal joint surfaces. Your implant will relieve arthritis pain and will help you maintain a greater range of motion than what fusion provides.

Your doctor will work with you to determine what type of surgery would best suit your case. You’ll decide on a type of surgery based on your age, activity level, severity of your condition, medical history, and a number of other factors.

To learn more about Wrist Arthritis treatment options in the Fort Myers, Estero and Naples area, contact Orthopedic Center of Florida.

Meet our Hand, Wrist & Elbow Doctors:

Spencer P. Skinner, MD

Spencer P. Skinner, MD

Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon Specializing in Hand, Upper Extremity, and Peripheral Nerve SurgeryOrthopedic Services and Sports Medicine SpecialtiesShoulderDislocations &...

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