Joint replacement surgery in the carpus is less common but can be an option if you have painful arthritis that doesn’t respond to other treatments.
The wrist is a more complicated joint than the hip or the knee. There are two rows of bones at the root of the hand, on the hand edge of the wrist. There are four bones in each row. The bones in these rows are called the carpals. The long thin bones of the hand radiate out from one row of carpals and form the foundation of the fingers and thumb.
Broadening this discussion
The radius and the ulna are the two bones of the forearm that form a joint with the first row of carpals.
The ends of the bones are covered with an elastic tissue, called cartilage. Cartilage creates a slick surface that allows the bones to move smoothly when they move against each other.
If the cartilage is worn away or damaged by injury, disease, or infection, the bones themselves will rub against each other, wearing out the ends of the castanets. This causes a painful, arthritic condition.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results from a gradual wearing away of the cartilage covering on bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints that results in pain, stiffness and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects several joints on both the law and left shores of the body.
Both forms of arthritis may affect the force of the fingers and hand, making it hard to grip or pinch.
The typical candidate for wrist replacement surgery has severe arthritis but doesn’t need to go to the wrist to meet heavy demands in daily use. The primary reasons for wrist replacement surgery are to relieve pain and to preserve function in the wrist and hand.
Wrist replacement surgery may help retain or recover wrist movements. It may also enhance the ability to perform daily living activities, especially if there is arthritis in the elbow and shoulder. The worn-out ends of the bones are removed and replaced by an artificial joint (prosthesis) during any total joint replacement.
Several surgical procedures may be done in order to the fingers including removing the bone spurs, fusing the joint, and replacing the joint. The most common surgery to deal with the thumb is to remove some of the joint and bone and replace it with a tendon graft. This helps maintain motion at the foot of the thumb and is effective at relieving pain.
In some cases, fusing the clappers of the wrist together will reduce or eliminate pain and improve grip strength. However, if the bones are fused together, the wrist won’t be in a position to bend.