Wrist Arthroplasty

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Total Wrist Arthroplasty which is also called as Wrist Joint Replacement is a surgical procedure for the treatment of pancarpal wrist arthritis. Read More

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Wrist Arthroplasty

This surgical procedure involves the replacement of the diseased or damaged joint with an artificial joint or prosthesis. The aim of the surgery is to create a stable and pain-free joint that offers the patient with a functional range of movement especially when conservative treatments have failed. The surgical procedure of wrist joint replacement is a motion-preserving alternative to arthrodesis of the wrist which usually lasts for a period of about 10 to 15 years.

These are a few treatment options available for patients with wrist arthritis. Yet before the treatment, a patient undergoes all of the following procedures:

1. Pre-Op Treatment:

Before the treatment, a patient normally undergoes diagnostic tests following a review of medical history, a general physical examination and an X-ray. Apart from this, a patient has to take blood tests too to confirm the presence of rheumatoid factor. Radiographic assessment of the patient’s bone quality erosions and the distal radioulnar joint is also carried out prior to wrist arthroplasty surgical procedure.

2. Surgical Procedure:

Normally wrist arthroscopy procedure is carried out only when non-surgical treatments are proven ineffective. These are the following steps involved in wrist replacement surgery.

  • The incision is made over the back of the wrist that which is line with the third metacarpal,
  • The tendons will be then moved away to expose the wrist joint.
  • Damaged surfaces of the arm bones and first row of carpal bones are then removed during the wrist arthroplasty procedure
  • The carpal component is then placed into the third metacarpal bone of the hand, after which a plastic spacer is then fit between metal components.
  • The wrist joint is tested through its range of motion once the new prosthesis is in place
  • The joint capsule, muscles and tendons are put back into place. Once done, the incision is closed and the wrist is bandaged.

3. Post-Op Treatment:

Once the total wrist arthroplasty surgery is done, physiotherapy should be started beginning with gentle mobilization exercises. Medications are provided to tame inflammation and also as an added pain relief for patients. The patient normally requires 6 to 12 weeks after the wrist arthroscopic surgical procedure to heal completely.


These are the typical symptoms of wrist arthritis in a patient:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness of wrist joint
  • Swelling in wrist joint
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Clicking or cracking sounds on movement


The most common causes people develop wrist arthritis are as follows:

  • Prior wrist injuries that occur when the joint surface wears away due to an injury in the wrist joint cartilage
  • Wrist instability that usually occurs after injuries especially to the small ligaments and bones in the carpal bones and ligaments
  • Rheumatoid arthritis causing patients inflammation of joints that can become so severe thus leading to the destruction of normal bone and cartilage


1. What are the benefits of arthroscopic wrist surgery?

By getting the total wrist replacement surgery done, activities that could not be performed prior to surgery can be resumed by the patient. Apart from this, a patient can also relieve from the pain involved in the movement of their wrist joint.

2. How long does the typical wrist implant last?

The longevity of a total wrist replacement surgery usually varies from patient to patient. It mainly depends on an individual’s age, weight, and medical condition. Following the surgeon’s recommendations post-surgery will help in enhancing longevity.

3. What are my non-surgical options before considering joint replacement?

Exercise or physical therapy are often considered as non-surgical options and can strengthen the muscles around the affected joints, possibly providing relief from pain while improving mobility and function apart from medications.

4. Is age a consideration for wrist joint replacement surgery?

Age is definitely not a problem especially if you are in reasonably good health and especially if you have the desire to continue living a productive and active life. However, you may ask to see your physician for an opinion about your health and readiness for wrist replacement surgery.

5. Are there any risks from wrist joint replacement surgery?

While uncommon, complications can still occur pre- and post-surgery. Some of the complications of wrist joint replacement surgery include infection, blood clots and premature wear of wrist joints.