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Wrist Replacement

Wrist replacement surgery or simply total wrist arthroplasty is a surgery usually performed in patients suffering from arthritis in wrists. In this procedure ,the wrist joint is replaced with an artificial implant. For this, most of the carpel bones that are in the front row and the lower end of the two bones of the forearm namely radius and ulna are removed ,and enough space is created for the new artificial implant. The new implant is then placed and checked for the range of mobility , and once the surgeon is satisfied with the functionality of the implant, it is then cemented in position.

Arthrodesis has been the traditional method used for the treatment of patients suffering from wrist arthritis. This method employed the technique of fusion of wrist bones. But now-a-days wrist arthroplasty is the prefferred method, as it helps both in pain management and movement restoration unlike arthrodesis, which could only help relieve the pain and not movement restoration.

The surgery is performed under regional anesthesia and does not usually require hospitalization. By 12 weeks a patient can resume the activities with the help of physical therapy.

Who should consider an wrist replacement?

The most common reason for considering an wrist replacement surgery is severely damaged wrist joint , where the normal functionality of the wrist has been lost.Those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are also recommended for this replacement.

What tests are required to confirm the need for the surgery?

The need for wrist replacement surgery is diagonsed after the physical examination of the wrist joints by the surgeon by assessing the mobility.The surgeon confirms the need for the surgery after the visualization of the X-ray reports.

What are the risks involved?

The risks associated with the replacement is the same as that of the other joint replacement surgeries. One such risk is the occurrence of infection at the site of surgery, which in turn may lead to the requirement of re-operation. Other risks associated with the surgery are fracture and allergic reaction against the new implant. The loosening of the new implants is a major concern causing pain in the wrist joints . The formation of the blood clots like in any case of surgery is also a concern.

What would be the average life of the implants ?

The average life of the artificial wrist implants ranges from 10-15 years or longer depending on lifestyle of the patient, stress put on the wrist joints and care given. Good routine of physical exercises help in increased life of the implants, however, heavy physical exercise is not recommended. By the passage of time, the implants tend to loosen up leading to revision surgery.

How beneficial would be the prosthesis ?

After the surgery, with the implanted prosthesis and physical therapy ,one can expect a relief from chronic pain. Most people experience an improvement in functionality of the wrist.One can carry out different activities like typing, playing various musical instruments and other activities involving wrist movement with much ease. However care should be taken not to put stress on the affected wrist.