The Wrist

The wrist, a very complex and delicate joint, can have its function and use limited by a large number of causes. Accidents can break or fracture its bones, diseases can impair its movement or produce pain, and its tissues can be damaged by use, such as in carpal tunnel syndrome or De Quervain's tendonitis, or by traumatic injuries to the flexor tendons. The wrist is also susceptible to Kienböck's disease and arthritis of any of the types, including rheumatoid arthritis.

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Amputation and Prosthetics

Some replacement surgeries are available that permit more normal functioning than in the past. Losing a body part no longer means loss of a quality life.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This condition can arise from many causes, but all cause a nerve in the wrist to become inflamed. As the nerve is used, the inflammation and pressure on it increases, and pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation may be felt.

Congenital Hand Differences

When the hands develop in the womb, differences from a typical hand can be produced. Additional or missing digits are both possible, as are other, mostly cosmetic, outcomes, which can often be treated through surgery.

De Quervain's Tendonitis

The tendons at the base of the thumb can become irritated, often as a result of new motions such as those experienced by recent mothers. The tunnel through which the tendon passes becomes swollen and painful, which irritates the tendon even more.

Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Injury)

This network of nerves, which run from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand, can be damaged through accident. If any of these crucial nerves are cut or crushed, surgery may be effective in replacing them.

Extensor Tendon Injuries

The tissues used to straighten the fingers extend through the wrist and can be damaged by any injury there. Surgery can often correct a severed tendon, resulting in very high use of lost function.

Fireworks Injuries

Injuries from explosions can be very severe and can cause extensive damage to the wrist. No one should ever hold fireworks themselves, nor let others risk loss or damage by doing that. Celebrations should never be cut short by needless tragedy.

Flexor Tendon Injuries

The muscles and tendons that move our fingers begin or run through the wrist and can be cut or damaged through accident. Quick treatment by a qualified hand surgeon can repair damage to the tendons and avoid complete loss of finger function.

Ganglion Cysts

These common lumps can appear on the wrist and can be medically treated. The lumps, which are not cancerous and often painless, may come from an irritated joint or tendon, but their cause isn't always known.

Hand Fractures

When the bones in the hand receive a fracture, the wrist is frequently involved. The bones in the wrist are highly susceptible to breaks, and care must be given to ensure the blood supply to the bone is not impaired.

Hand Infections

Many infections of the hand can travel to the wrist, further complicating treatment and your health. Any deep cut, especially those from human or animal bites, can become infected and should be inspected by a medical professional. Infections can be very serious and should never be taken lightly.

Human and Animal Bites

Bites to the wrist can damage its sensitive tissues or lead to infection. Any bite on the wrist should be examined by a hand doctor who can thoroughly clean the area and treat any tissue that was broken, crushed, or damaged so severely that it cannot be expected to heal properly on its own.

Kienböck's Disease

Pain in the wrist may be a symptom of this disease, which is located in one of its bones. The complex arrangement of the wrist means there are many fine veins and arteries, and if the supply of blood to the bones that make up the wrist is impaired, this disease can produce pain and tenderness in the affected bone.

Nerve Injuries of the Hand

To reach the brain where their signals can be processed, nerves from the hand and fingers all run through the wrist where injury may affect their function. These very fine, but essential, nerves can often be repaired by surgery.

Osteoarthritis of the Hand

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, including those of the wrist. Stiff, swollen, or painful joints are a symptom of any arthritis, including osteoarthritis, and there may be many causes.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Often accompanying some minor cut, RSD produces intense pain out of proportion to the injury. A misfiring nerve produces continual or frequent signals, often with little or no cause.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The wrist is particularly susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis because of the high number of bones and bone surfaces it contains. If the surface of any of these joints becomes damaged or simply wears out, stiffness, swelling or pain may result.

Scaphoid Fractures

The scaphoid is the most frequently broken bone in the wrist. It is often fractured when a hand is stretched out to prevent a fall, and sometimes the resulting break is just thought to be a simple strain.

Scaphoid Non-Union

The scaphoid has a delicate blood supply, which can prevent this bone from healing properly after a break. If the condition isn't treated, the scaphoid may collapse and even die and the wrist may become inflexible or arthritic.

Tendon Transfer Surgery

This surgical procedure can help repair a damaged tendon by moving a healthy tendon from one bone to another that has lost its use. When the newly-anchored tendon heals and becomes permanent, function returns.

Vascular Disorders

Veins and arteries in the wrist run close to bones and they can be damaged or injured in accidents. It is sometimes possible to repair or even replace a crushed, cut, or heavily damaged vein or artery, and this can restore proper blood supply to the affected area.

Wrist Arthroscopy

The bones and other tissues that make up the wrist can be examined and sometimes treated by this relatively painless surgical procedure. Tiny instruments are inserted through small cuts around the wrist so its structure and tissues can be examined and, in some cases, repaired.

Wrist Fractures

The wrist is often broken in falls and similar accidents, especially when the hand is spread out to break the fall. The nine bones that make up the wrist can break individually, or many of them can be injured at once. Unless treated, arthritis can result if the wrist fails to heal properly, and it may evenbecome inoperable.

Wrist Sprain

Even when the bones do not break, the ligaments can be stretched or injured, resulting in a sprain. This painful condition is common and often accompanies sports injuries. Treatment for a sprain depends on its severity and age, and can range from simple splints to reconstructive surgery.