Wrist Joint Conditions

Wrist Arthritis

Pain and stiffness are common symptoms of arthritis. Your wrist is made up of many small joints, and inflammation in these areas can be a sign of arthritis in wrist.

Arthritis attacks your bones by destroying the cartilage, causing your bones to rub against one another. Other signs and symptoms of arthritis of wrist include:

  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Clicking, cracking, or grinding sounds on movement

There are four types of arthritis that can affect the wrist

  • Osteoarthritis: develops overtime as cartilage naturally wears down
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues
  • Psoriatic arthritis: an inflammatory skin and joint disease
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: occurs after an injury to the wrist

People with RA are more likely to have arthritis in their wrists. Over time, arthritis may make it hard to bend your wrists or perform daily activities.

What does arthritis feel like?

Not everyone with arthritis will have the same symptoms. Development of symptoms depends on the type of arthritis and how severe your condition is. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to produce long-lasting stiffness, swelling, and redness of the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis may also feel fatigue, general discomfort, and lack of appetite.

What is treatment for wrist arthritis?

Arthritis doesn’t have a cure but treatments can help manage your symptoms and relieve pain. You can also try limiting activities that cause pain in your wrist, if possible. A splint may help with this, as it eases physical stress and provides support. You can order a custom-made splint to cover your wrist and forearm.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) decrease inflammation in the wrist joints. Aspirin and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs. There’s also anti-inflammatory gel, which doesn’t have the side effects oral medication may have.
If you have severe acute flares from your arthritis, steroids may be in order. A prescription of a steroidal drug called methylprednisolone may be given as a pulse treatment with a tapering dosing schedule to help address your pain.
If your symptoms are moderate or severe, a steroid or cortisone injection maybe helpful. Injections provide anti-inflammatory effects. They can bring relief and improvement in arthritis symptoms. But these effects may only be temporary.
If you’ve tried all these methods, your doctor may suggest that you progress to others. More advanced treatments, especially for rheumatoid arthritis, include disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which are now used very early in treatment and on occasion as first-line therapy.
If surgery is indicated, an orthopaedic wrist surgeon can remove bones, fuse bones, or replace them in an attempt to decrease pain and, in some cases, increase function.

Matthan Mammen

Matthan Mammen

MS, FRACS (Orth)

Matthan is an internationally qualified orthopaedic surgeon, who is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

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