Pain level is main factor in opting for wrist replacement
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, December 28, 2012
12/28/12 at 7:43 AM
Dear Doctor K: We've all heard of hip and knee replacements - but is it true that you can have your wrist replaced, too?
Dear Reader: The joint replacements you hear most about are those of the knees and hips, but surgeons also have been replacing hand joints for decades.
Joint replacement (arthroplasty) in the hands is more challenging because of the hands' intricate bone structure and smaller joint size.
Wrist arthroplasty involves removing damaged bone or joints and replacing them with artificial, or prosthetic, joints. The artificial joints provide patients with a better range of motion and more stability.
Wrist arthroplasty can be done as an inpatient or outpatient procedure. Sometimes general anesthesia is used; other times, you are awake but the nerves are numbed.
In the surgery, the surgeon removes the first row of carpal bones (the bones that lie between the forearm and the hand). Then the surgeon shapes the end of the radius (the main forearm bone) to fit one part of the artificial joint, which is attached to the end of the bone. The other part of the artificial joint fits over carpal bones in the wrist. A plastic spacer fits between the two components.
Now the two artificial joint surfaces move easily against each other, creating a flexible and pain-free wrist.
If you're considering joint replacement, weigh the benefits and risks. Age is an important factor. But the final decision is based on your level of pain and how much your wrist stiffness and pain limit your activities.
Wrist replacement may be an option if one or more of the following apply to you: cannot complete normal daily tasks without help; you have significant pain every day; pain keeps you awake at night despite the use of medications; nonsurgical approaches have not relieved your pain; pain keeps you from doing daily activities or your job; pain doesn't subside when you rest; and you suffer side effects from the medications.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106