Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Wrist FAQ

Question:

I had an arthroscopic test done on my wrist. It showed a torn dorsal radial ligament. What happens to these if they aren't repaired surgically?

Answer:

You may be referring to the dorsal radiocarpal ligament (DRCL) across the back of the wrist. The natural history of injuries to this area remains unknown. There aren't enough studies on this topic to follow patients over time to see what happens.

From the few studies published, it appears that conservative care should be tried first. A hand therapist can apply heat, mobilization, splinting, or other modalities to help the tissue heal or to stabilize the wrist. Once the pain has been taken care of, then range of motion and strengthening exercises are usually added. A trial of six months of nonoperative care is usually advised.

If this treatment is not successful, then surgery may be needed. Your surgeon was probably able to find the areas and extent of damage with the arthroscopic exam. Surgery can be done using an arthroscope, but sometimes an open incision is needed when extensive reconstruction is required. David J. Slutsky, MD. The Incidence of Dorsal Radiocarpal Ligament Tears in Patients Having Diagnostic Wrist Arthroscopy for Wrist Pain. In Journal of Hand Surgery. March 2008. Vol. 33. No. 3. Pp. 332-334.

*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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