Wrist arthritis is a condition caused by the wearing away of the cartilage protecting the bones of the wrist from rubbing against each other, allowing a smooth movement of the hand and wrist. The wrist is composed of multiple joints that can be affected by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Treating wrist arthritis usually starts with nonsurgical methods and techniques. Only when the condition has progressed to a very advanced stage will doctors recommend surgery. Let’s talk about the different treatments for wrist arthritis.
In the early stages of wrist arthritis, symptoms can improve with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and anti-inflammatories. These are at-home treatments patients can do for themselves. Doctors can prescribe stronger anti-inflammatories, administer cortisone injections, and physical therapy.
- Cortisone injections for wrist arthritis – These injections combine cortisone, a potent l steroid, and an anesthetic. Together, the shot can help reduce swelling and inflammation and relieve pain. The cortisone is injected directly into the joint. This method provides long-term relief from arthritis symptoms. Some patients can enjoy six months of relief from arthritis symptoms with cortisone injections.
- Physical therapy for wrist arthritis – Hand therapy, which includes wrist exercises, can benefit patients with wrist pain and stiffness from arthritis. Wrist stretches can help relieve pain and improve hand flexibility.
- Wrist brace – An arthritic wrist can benefit from the added support and compression of a wrist brace. Wearing a wrist brace helps ease pain, encourages healing, stabilizes the wrist, and keeps it in a neutral position.
In most cases, wrist arthritis improves with nonsurgical treatment options. If the patient still experiences pain and other symptoms that limit hand function, the doctor may recommend surgery.
The most commonly performed surgery to treat wrist arthritis is a wrist fusion. The goal is to let the smaller bones heal into one single bone. This procedure addresses the issue of the bones rubbing against each other, causing pain and swelling. During the procedure, the doctor fuses the bones of the forearm, wrist, and hand, may use a bone graft to prevent movement, and ensures the bones fuse together.
Another less common surgical technique for treating wrist arthritis is a joint replacement. The wrist joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. A wrist replacement allows more wrist movement than a wrist fusion; however, a wrist replacement may not be ideal for patients with an active lifestyle when the artificial wrists could be subject to significant forces.
Wrist Arthritis Treatment in Tucson, AZ
Dr. Robert E. Lending is a board-certified internal medicine doctor offering concierge medicine services. Dr. Lending uses a combination of treatments and creates a personalized plan for you that targets pain, swelling, and stiffness in treating wrist arthritis. Dr. Lending sees to it that you get relief from symptoms and improve the function of your hands.
Concierge service means Dr. Lending has greater availability and more time to spend with you. If you are interested in a different concierge experience, call Dr. Lending’s clinic now at (520) 795-4291 or use our appointment request form.