Wrist osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is not as common as rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist however still occurs and can cause a lot of pain and problems.

What is wrist osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that describes joint “wear and tear” of a joint. The wrist is a very complex joint and is particularly susceptible as large amounts of pressure are placed on it every day. Osteoarthritis describes degenerative changes with damage to the cartilage which then causes aching and stiffness of the joints.

What causes wrist osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a gradual condition that is caused by wear and tear of the joint and can be caused by repetitive use of a joint. Other causes include bone structure and weak cartilage or previous damage due to a bad sprain or fractured wrist.

When you damage your wrist the injury alters the anatomy of the wrist slightly so the different parts do not work as well together anymore. These changes increase the joint wear and tear and speed up the degeneration process- this is also referred to as posttraumatic osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms of wrist osteoarthritis?

There are several symptoms of wrist osteoarthritis including:

  • Pain- this is the main symptom of wrist osteoarthritis
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty twisting and gripping objects e.g. a doorknob

How is wrist osteoarthritis diagnosed?

A doctor or physiotherapist can diagnose wrist arthritis following a thorough subjective and objective assessment and a scan such as an X-ray or MRI can distinguish the physical extent of your wrist osteoarthritis.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for wrist osteoarthritis?

Treatment is tailored to you and following an assessment by your physiotherapist a treatment plan is created depending upon what your main problems are. There are several treatment options for wrist osteoarthritis and your physiotherapist will choose the most appropriate treatment methods based on your symptoms and response to treatment methods.

Treatment can include:

  • Range of movement exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Heat therapy
  • Splints
  • Advice regarding non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Advice regarding steroid injections

If your wrist arthritis becomes severe then surgery may be considered. The wrist is complex and as a result there are several different procedures that can be done to treat a painful wrist including wrist fusion.

Physiotherapy is important post-operatively in order to make sure that the wrist recovers as best as possible.

Benefit of physiotherapy for wrist osteoarthritis?

Physiotherapy can be very beneficial for wrist osteoarthritis and our aim is to reduce your symptoms and allow your wrist to function as best possible with as little pain. The benefits you receive from physiotherapy will depend on your symptoms and treatment goals.

Physiotherapy helps with:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced stiffness
  • Advice and education
  • Increased range of movement
  • Increased strength
  • Advice regarding activity modification

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 615 051 or e-mail: infofarrellphysiotherapy@gmail.com.