Also known as wrist arthroplasty, the basis of the surgery is to remove the damaged parts of the wrist bones and replace them with a suitable prosthesis. The doctor recommends a wrist replacement surgery, only when the non-surgery alternatives are not useful for the patient’s condition.

Causes: Following are the most common reasons, which lead patients to a wrist replacement surgery:

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis: In this condition, the synovial membrane surrounding the shoulder joint gets inflamed and thickened. This can lead to the cartilage being damaged, and causing pain, stiffness, and cartilage loss. This arthritis is one of the most popular groups of disorders known as “inflammatory arthritis.”
  2. Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease): This condition occurs mostly due to age. It is a typical “wear and tear” kind of arthritis. Usually, people older than 50 years of age face this situation. What happens is, that the cartilage which is cushioned between the bones of the shoulder becomes soft and wear away. Eventually, the bones rub against one another, leading to immense pain and stiffness. Sadly, no ways have been found to prevent osteoarthritis, as of now.
  3. Severe Fractures: A serious fracture of one or more bones, which are a part of the elbow, will lead to an elbow replacement surgery. Older people having osteoporosis (fragile bone) have a higher risk of severe elbow fractures.

Evaluation and treatment: The examination of the condition is done through various imaging techniques. The imaging reports provide valuable insight into the wound, which helps in conducting the surgery. The aim of the surgery is to ensure a speedy recovery and restore the original movements of the wrist.

This surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure, unlike a knee or hip replacement. Correcting disorders or the deformities in the nerves, tendons, and small joints of the thumb and the finger is where the wrist replacement surgery is employed. First, the surgeon makes an incision on the back of the wrist. Then the affected bones of the lower arm bones are removed, and so are the first row of carpal bones. The radial part of the prosthesis is placed inside the centre of the bone and held in its place with bone cement.

On the basis of the design of the prosthesis, the carpal part is then placed into the centre of the third metacarpal, or screwed into the remaining row of carpal bones. Bone cement can be used to ensure that the prosthesis stays in its place. The doctor can choose to fuse or link the carpal bones to secure the artificial component.

A cast must be worn by the patient for the initial weeks. After its removal, a protective splint must be used for the following six to eight weeks. The pain relief is quick, although the doctor will advise some exercises to improve the power and endurance. Post-surgery, the motion of the wrist will improve to almost 50% of the normal.