Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Wrist FAQ


I had a lot of pain in my wrist for quite a while. I was bowling a couple of times a week in a league so I thought I just over did it. When I went to the doctor, he said I had Kienbock disease where the bones in my wrist were dying. Can this spread? What is going on? He said the only way to deal with it was to do a surgery that would cut out part of the bone.


The pain from Kienbock disease is very easily mistaken for a sprained or injured wrist at first. The difference is, usually the injured wrist stops hurting after a while, while Kienbock disease won't and it does start to make the wrist less bendable. It can also affect the strength in the hand. While, technically, part of the bone in your wrist is dying, it's not that cut and dry. What happens in Kienbock disease is that the blood supply is cut off from some small bones in the wrist, for an unknown reason, and without the blood supplying the necessary oxygen and nutrients, the cells in the bone do begin to die. However, this doesn't spread, so there's no worry for that. Treatment for Kienbock disease is often a surgery called an osteotomy. In the surgery, the surgeon removes a very small part of the bone that has been affected. The surgery is usually quite successful and allows the patient to return to his or her previous level activity after it is completely healed. Tadayoshi Watanabe, et al. Long-term Follow-up of Radial Shortening Osteotomy for Kienbock Disease. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2008. vol. 90. Pp. 1705-1711.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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