Arthritis is a very painful disease that affects different joints in the body and this condition is most present in weight-bearing joints of the body like the shoulders and the knees. However, there is a significant number of patients that are suffering from wrist arthritis. There are actually two types of wrist arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, often referred to as the wear-and tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a condition that damages the cartilages of the joints. When this happens, the two bones rub against each other resulting in arthritis. This will bring pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected wrist.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory condition that damages the joint linings, bones, tissues, ligaments and joints. It normally starts in small joints found in the fingers, hands and wrist.
Signs and symptoms of wrist arthritis:
• Osteoarthritis of the wrist – Swelling is obvious and pain is felt along the base of the thumb that causes limited movements and weakness. The symptoms are present in the wrist joint only.
• Rheumatoid arthritis of the wrist – Swelling, pain and limited hand movements are present. Also, total hand function can be affected plus pain along knuckle joint is felt. In addition, joint swelling can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome because of pressure on the nerves that are along the wrist.
Different physical examinations and tests are done by doctors to diagnose wrist arthritis and an X-ray can help identify the type of arthritis that the patient has. For treating wrist arthritis, doctors will try the other treatment options first before considering surgery. There are several therapies that can be tried, including:
• Intake of doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Acetaminophen
• Temporary use of a splint to immobilize the wrist
• Undergoing physical therapy
• Cortisone injection to the affected wrist joint
Doctors can also prescribe other therapies depending on the patient’s wrist arthritis condition. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can take Antimetabolites, Antimalarial drugs and genetically-engineered drugs.
If in case the above methods do not work or if the hand function is severely reduced, surgery is the last option. There are a lot of factors that needed to be considered before surgery. This includes the patient’s age, medical history, allergies to medicines and of course their response to previous treatments.
The main objective of the surgery is to relieve pain. However, the function of the joint may also be affected depending on the type of surgery that the patient will undergo because surgery requires the removal of the arthritic bones, joint fusion and joint replacement.
If you are suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in your wrist then your doctor will surely discuss with you your treatment options. Do not hesitate to ask questions and learn how each option can help you.