Wrist pain? Here’s why you may want to consider surgery
Our hand and wrist motion combine to make us uniquely human, providing the ability to touch and grasp involved in countless daily activities. Pain in the wrist from arthritis at the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint – or basilar joint where the wrist meets the thumb – is a common and often debilitating condition.
As a hand and upper extremity specialist, I see patients in my office each day struggling to work and complete daily tasks due to pain in the wrist. One of the more complex joints of the body, the wrist is actually made up of multiple small joints. When healthy, the bones glide over each other easily, covered by smooth cartilage. Osteoarthritis, the type of arthritis associated with aging, use and genetic predisposition, damages the cartilage. The roughened arthritic surfaces no longer glide smoothly on each other with the result being pain associated with motion and activities that require flexion and extension of the thumb and wrist.
Fortunately, hand surgery has evolved to the point where an outpatient surgery can help alleviate arthritic symptoms at the CMC joint of the wrist with excellent results and a relatively easy recovery. While I always encourage patients to try conservative measures like anti-inflammatory medications, bracing and cortisone injections before recommending surgery, many times, the degeneration of the joint makes surgery the only solution to pain.
My recommendation to patients is a CMC excisional arthroplasty, where the arthritic bone making up the base of the thumb joint – the trapezium – is surgically removed. Strong sutures and a stabilizing technique is implemented to retain the integrity of the joint. Patients go home in a splint and return to the office in a week’s time for suture removal. A removable wrist splint is provided and physical therapy begins. At the four-week mark, the majority of patients are pain free and returned to most daily activities.
Patients frequently tell me that they don’t know why they waited so long to do something about their painful wrist. Given the many activities that involve use of the hand – particularly the thumb – an arthritic CMC joint can have a significant impact on function. I am glad to be able to offer a surgical solution that can so greatly improve function and quality of life.
Dr. Marcus Talerico is a board-certified Lake County orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics and Advocate Condell Medical Center. A specialist in disorders of the hand and upper extremities, as well as orthopedic trauma, Dr. Talerico sees patients in Libertyville. Click here to learn more about Dr. Talerico or schedule an appointment, or call AMG Orthopedics at (847) 634-1766.
About the Author
Dr. Marcus Talerico is a board-certified Lake County orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics and Advocate Condell Medical Center. A specialist in disorders of the hand and upper extremities, as well as orthopedic trauma, Dr. Talerico sees patients in Libertyville.