Total Wrist Replacement
Comprising bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels, the wrist enables activities of daily living. When the wrist joint deteriorates severely, disability and pain can become intolerable.
Lifestyle modifications and treatments such as physical therapy and steroid injections can help. If these do not relieve your pain and improve your function, surgical treatment might be necessary.
Two surgical options for treating degenerative joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, are wrist fusion (arthrodesis) and total wrist replacement (arthroplasty).
Wrist fusion, which involves implanting a metal plate, relieves pain but results in the loss of flexibility and limits the patient’s ability to do certain tasks.
Total wrist replacement has been highly successful in relieving pain and improving ability to carry out everyday tasks.
About Wrist Replacement Surgery
Total wrist arthoplasty is used to treat patients who have crippling pain and disability due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
The implants (prostheses) used are made of alloy metals and polyethylene (high-density plastic). Current designs use a special porous coating that enables bone ingrowth, rather than cement, to secure the implant in place.
Wrist replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia and usually takes less than two hours. Many patients experience remarkable relief from their arthritis pain almost immediately.
Surgeons at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute work in close collaboration with their peers and with physical therapists to ensure the best quality pre- and post-operative care.
About Your Recovery after Wrist Replacement Surgery
Patients who undergo total wrist replacement usually have a cast for two to three weeks and then wear a splint for a few additional weeks. Several weeks of hand therapy help patients achieve optimal results.
At four to six weeks after surgery, patients have resumed all their activities of daily living, including driving.
Patients who undergo total wrist arthroplasty usually regain a range of motion of 60 to 70 degrees, considered a functional arc, adequate to carry out all activities of daily living.