Guest post by Avery Arora, MD
Medical science has advanced considerably over the years when it comes to replacing damaged joints. Knee and hip replacements have become commonplace, but chances are you have not heard all that much about wrist replacement surgery. This is because it is somewhat less common, but as with other types of joint replacement, it can restore good quality of life to a patient who needs it.
Wrist replacement, also referred to as arthroplasty, works by removing the damaged cartilage and bone in the wrist joint. Then, the wrist bone is resurfaced using implants created from polyethylene and metal alloy to duplicate the function of a healthy joint. The operation has a very high success rate and can reduce or even eliminate the pain. Conditions like bone fractures and other traumas, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis that do not respond to other treatment methods can be dramatically improved.
Wrist replacement surgery, in addition to reducing or eliminating pain, can deliver improved mobility and allow you to return to the activities you once enjoyed. It is likely that you will even be able to participate in low-impact sports.
Complications from wrist implant surgery are not common, but they can occur, both during and following surgery. As with any type of surgery, there is a slight risk of infection. Other complications could include fractures, nerve damage or implant breakage. The risk of these complications, however, is very low. Some patients will continue to experience some pain or stiffness. Keep in mind, too, that no implant is designed to last forever. The type of activities you engage in will affect the life of your implant.
Before your wrist implant surgery, you should do strengthening exercises. This helps to prepare you for the surgery and also for your post-surgical recovery. Your doctor may also recommend a specific nutrition plan to ensure that you are in the best possible health prior to surgery. It is also advisable that you make sure your home is free of hazards that could cause you to slip and fall, since any sudden impact to your new implant could result in damage.
Usually, wrist replacement surgery is done on an outpatient basis, so you can go home the same day. You will likely have to wear a splint for two to four weeks. During the recovery time, gentle movements of the wrist and fingers can help to speed your recovery and improve flexibility.
Even when the splint is removed, you will still have to wait several weeks before you can return to lifting or any activities that require repetitive movements. You will not be able to participate in contact sports or any type of activity that could deliver excessive pressure to your wrist joint. You will, of course, follow up with your surgeon. He or she will let you know when you can resume your normal activities without running the risk of post-surgical complications.
Dr. Avery Arora is a hand surgeon in Livonia, Michigan and has been considered to be a “top doctor” in his field as selected by other medical doctors and surgeons. He specializes in the care and rehabilitation of medical problems related to the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow and is affiliated with multiple hospitals, including Botsford Hospital and Oakland Regional Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Arora at https://www.arorahandsurgery.com.
Learn more about conditions and injuries of the upper extremity by visiting www.HandCare.org.