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Joint Replacement for Your Wrist?

'Do you have pain while trying to turn a door knob, lift a gallon of milk, or even sleep?'

Arthritis affects millions of people in the United States. Simply defined, arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. A joint is where the ends of bones meet. Inflammation causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joint.

"A significant number of people have arthritis in their wrists which makes it difficult for them to do daily activities," said David Martineau, MD, fellowship-trained orthopedic hand surgeon. "Patients will usually experience wrist pain with activity that involves rotating the wrist." Joint replacement surgery in the wrist is less common than knee or hip replacement, but can be an option if you have painful arthritis that has not respond to other treatments.

"Candidates for this procedure would include patients suffering with rheumatoid, degenerative, or post-traumatic arthritis," explained Dr. Martineau. In wrist joint replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the wrist bones are removed and replaced with artificial components, called a prosthesis.

The procedure is similar to a hip joint replacement of the wrist. It involves removing the arthritic joint including the end of the ulna and replacing it with the same cobalt chrome and plastic used in total hips. After surgery, patients are in a splint for 3-5 days until they visit hand therapy, have the splint removed and begin motion exercises. After rehabilitation therapy, the patient is usually able to use their hand for turning and, most importantly, for lifting.

If you have wrist pain from arthritis that keeps you from doing daily activities, schedule a consultation with Dr. Martineau to see if you would be a candidate for a wrist joint replacement.

Dr. Martineau is an orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in hand, wrist and upper extremity surgery with the Hand Center of Southwestern Ohio. Together with Dr. Martineau, Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio provides some of the most advanced and up-to-date orthopedic care in southwest Ohio.


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