Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Wrist FAQ

Question:

I'm studying the possibility of having a wrist replacement for my right hand. Right now, I'm so limited in motion, I can barely unwrap a candy bar, pick up a cup of coffee, or take care of personal matters (if you know what I mean). The studies I found on the Internet report increased wrist motion of 10 to 15 degrees. That doesn't seem like hardly anything, is it?

Answer:

People with severe wrist arthritis like yourself (usually from rheumatoid arthritis) find themselves in a bit of a bind -- literally. With pain, swelling, and loss of wrist motion it becomes increasingly difficult to perform even the simplest task. Most often both wrists are affected -- not just one. Personal hygiene can become a huge problem. Whether in the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen, even a few degrees of motion can indeed make a big difference in function. Even a few degrees of wrist motion can position the fingers in such a way as to allow patients to complete many previously impossible tasks. And manufacturers of these implants are watching closely to the results. They have made slight changes in the shape of the implant surface. Even small changes have made significant differences in return of motion and function. Studies comparing patient satisfaction after wrist fusion versus wrist replacement show much higher marks for the wrist implantation. Even though complication rates are almost double for wrist replacement compared to fusion, the improvements in function and motion were enough for patients to support wrist replacement as their preferred choice. Implant manufacturers are continuing to improve the design of wrist implants. Efforts to mimic the normal anatomy of the wrist are paying off. Fewer wrist dislocations and improved wrist stability are reported with the newer, improved "second generation" implants. Christina M. Ward, MD, et al. Five to Ten-Year Outcomes of the Universal Total Wrist Arthroplasty in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 18, 2011. Vol. 93. No. 10. Pp. 914-919.

*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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