How Do I Know If I Need Wrist Surgery?

The hands and wrist are important parts of the body, enabling one to undertake everyday tasks with ease and great mobility. But, when the wrist is injured, even the simplest activities can become difficult. In this article, we will answer some common questions related to wrist surgery and treatment options.

What are common causes of wrist pain?

The wrist is a very complex joint that joins the arm to the hand. In fact, the wrist is made up of three main joints instead of one, which helps provide stability and gives a wide range of movement to the hand. There are eight small carpal bones in the wrist, called the carpus, that join the hand to the radius and ulna in the forearm. With the complexities of the wrist, the bones, nerves and soft tissue can succumb to injury and chronic pain. Common causes of wrist pain include:

  • Bone Fractures. ​Two of the most prevalent wrist fractures, distal radius and scaphoid fractures, are often the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand. When a distal radius fracture occurs, the radius bone in the forearm breaks near the wrist, causing it to bend abnormally and causing great pain. A scaphoid fracture is when this carpal bone near the thumb breaks; however, this kind of fracture can often go unnoticed since it may only cause mild pain.
  • Repetitive Stress Injuries.​ Over time, repetitive motions or overuse of the wrist – such as typing, writing or athletic activities – can cause numbness or pain. Common examples of these kinds of stress injuries are tendonitis and carpal tunnel.
  • Sprains.​ Sprains are the result of ligament damage caused by overextending the wrist.
  • Arthritis. ​Arthritis pain can happen in any part of the wrist and is often the result of age and normal, everyday use over time.

Should I see a specialist about my wrist pain?

Any time you hurt your wrist, you should consult your doctor to rule out an injury that could cause long term damage. For example, untreated bone fractures can cause loss of function or deformity. Likewise, you may want to consult an orthopedic specialist if you are experiencing swelling, numbness, decreased mobility, or increased pain in the wrist, hand or forearm.

What are my treatment options?

A physical exam, certain tests and/or x-rays will help identify the extent of the injury. Some common wrist injuries can be treated with rest, braces and/or physical therapy. Other injuries or causes of chronic wrist pain may require surgery. In this case, an orthopedic wrist specialist can help determine if minimally invasive surgery, such as arthroscopy, is an available option or if a more complex surgical technique is necessary. The recommended non-surgical or surgical treatment options largely depend on the type of injury as well as duration. Other factors, such as age and overall health, also play a role. For example, dislocated, misaligned or fragmented bones in the wrist may require more extensive treatment, such as open reduction surgery. Your orthopedic wrist specialist will discuss the latest surgical techniques and methods available based on your diagnosis. R

How long is recovery after wrist surgery?

Recovery after wrist surgery depends upon the individual and the severity of the injury, however it can range from a few weeks to several months. In some cases, such as after a serious wrist fracture, recovery will also include physical therapy to help recover mobility and restore strength. In order to ensure the best possible outcome, it is imperative to follow your doctor’s orders.

Should I get wrist surgery?

As discussed, some wrist conditions require surgery. If you think you may need wrist surgery due to an injury, chronic pain or decreased mobility, Coastal Orthopedics is here to help. Our specialists are committed to developing the right treatment options best suited for each patient so that they can get back to living life.​ For more information or to speak to one of our orthopedic or sports medicine specialists, call us today at 941-792-1404 or ​request an appointment online. ​