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Wrist Arthritis

If you are experiencing mild to severe pain in your wrist associated with stiffness or swelling, arthritis might just be the cause. It is important to contact a physical therapist immediately. Commencing treatment early eliminates the need for pain killers and surgery later on. Physical therapy helps to relieve pain, strengthen the wrist joint, and provides motion and flexibility, so you can get back to your normal activities. Contact us today to get started.

Know Your Wrist

Your wrist is made up of 8 small bones (carpals) that connect to your forearm bones (the radius and ulna) and your thumb and fingers. The carpals are in two rows, with four bones at each row. The upper row of the carpal (metacarpal) connects to your thumb and fingers, while the lower row connects to the forearm bones. An elastic tissue known as cartilage covers the end of the bones. This protects the bones and enables them to move easily without friction.

What is Wrist Arthritis?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that attacks the bones and damages the cartilage which makes the bones able to move easily without friction. Wrist arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the wrist joint is damaged, causing pain in the wrist. This can range from mild to moderate to severe.

Types of Wrist Arthritis

The most common arthritis to affect the wrist includes:
Osteoarthritis: This form of arthritis is common in persons from 40 years of age most especially women. It can also occur in younger people. The wearing away of the cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: This happens when your immune system attacks your joints. The synovial membrane covering the joints becomes inflamed. This can damage the cartilage and lead to stiffness and pain in the wrist. RA is symmetrical – it affects both joints on the same side of the body. RA most likely affects the joints between the radius and ulnar (forearm bones)

Post-traumatic Arthritis: This begins to develop after a wrist injury, where fractures and tears may damage the cartilage.

Symptoms of Wrist Arthritis

These symptoms vary among people from mild to severe. Symptoms may also come and go depending on the activities individuals are involved in. Symptoms include:

Diagnosing Wrist Arthritis

In the early stages of wrist arthritis, symptoms may be similar to tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Diagnosis is required to rule out other conditions. At Polygon PT, a physical therapist will perform a physical examination on your wrist, looking out for arthritis symptoms. We will also require you to undergo X-ray and blood tests with your doctor as additional diagnostic methods. Once the type and severity of arthritis are diagnosed, a treatment plan will be created for you.

Treatment for Wrist Arthritis

There is no cure for arthritis, but different treatment methods can help relieve symptoms. It is important to seek help immediately when you suspect wrist arthritis. This means treatment can begin, and surgery can be avoided.

Physical Therapy

For mild to moderate arthritis, physical therapy is effective for managing symptoms. Your physical therapist will create a custom treatment plan for you. The plan is likely to include
These help to reduce pain stiffness, increase joint strength and mobility. Physical therapy eliminates the need for pain killers and surgery.


For long-lasting and severe wrist arthritis where physical therapy and other forms of treatment such as steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medication do not provide relief from pain, surgery is done. There are two types of surgery for wrist arthritis.
After surgery, post-operative rehab is crucial to restoring strength and mobility to the wrist. This is because surgery alone doesn’t guarantee that your wrist will be flexible, and you can return to normal activities. Your post-operative rehab program will also be customized to suit your needs.

Get Started on Physical Therapy for Wrist Arthritis Today

As we said earlier, beginning treatment early for arthritis eliminates the need for surgery and harmful painkillers. Even if you are considering having surgery or have had surgery, post-operative rehab is still important. Our therapists at Polygon PT are excited to see how we can help relieve your pain and get you back to performing your normal activities in no distant time. Request an appointment with us today.