Wrist Fusion

Wrist fusion surgery provides treatment for serve wrist pain caused by arthritis. Your surgeon may have done a great job, but it is important to know that surgery is just the first step. It doesn’t guarantee total mobility. Physical therapy is important for complete recovery, strength, and a full range of motion once your wrist begins to heal. Our physical therapists are excited to help you achieve this in the shortest time possible. Contact us today and request an appointment with one of our therapists.

What is wrist fusion?

Wrist fusion, also called total wrist arthrodesis, is a procedure done in which the small bones of the wrist (carpal bones) are joined, merged, or fused with the radius bone of your forearm. This is used to treat severe pain in the wrist, where other treatment options have failed. It is different from wrist replacement. In wrist replacement, the damaged parts of the wrist bones are replaced with artificial parts (prosthetics). With wrist fusion, the bones become one solid bone, relieves the pain and the patient is able to continue using the wrist.

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.

Reasons for Wrist Fusion

Arthritis is a degenerative condition where the cartilage has been damaged. This causes intense pain in the wrist and limits motion. Persons with arthritis are unable to use their wrist for normal day-to-day activities and experience severe pain while bending or lifting the wrist. There are three forms of arthritis that wrist fusion can provide relief for:
Osteoarthritis This form of arthritis is common in persons from 40 years of age most especially women. It can also occur in younger people.
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.
Post-traumatic Arthritis This begins to develop after a wrist injury, where fractures and tears may damage the cartilage.

Who is Wrist Fusion Right For?

Wrist replacement is ideal for persons who have

Who is Unsuitable for Wrist Fusion?

Wrist fusion surgery may not be right for you if you have:

Before and During Surgery For Wrist Fusion

Before the surgery, a complete physical examination will be carried out to ensure you are in good health, and suitable for a wrist fusion. Once you and your surgeon have made the decision for wrist fusion, then it’s time to go prepare for your surgery. It is important to make changes to your home and have someone to support you after surgery. This is because you won’t be able to use your wrist for a couple of weeks. During the procedure, a general or local anesthetic will be given to you to keep you asleep or sedated. The procedure will only take a few hours. A metal plate with holes that extends from the radius bone to the metacarpal is placed at the back of the wrist and attached with metal screws. Surgery may be done on an outpatient (same-day surgery) basis.

Recovery for Wrist Fusion Surgery

After the surgery, be ready to feel some pain, this is normal for a while. Your doctor may prescribe pain killers for a period to help with the pain. Once your pain begins to subside, stop taking the meds. The bones will need time to grow and fuse together. During this time, your arm will be put in a cast for at least 4 weeks. Once the cast is removed, you will need to wear a splint for another 6 – 8 weeks. Post-operative rehabilitation is very crucial after surgery. This guarantees that your wrist heals faster, and is restored to its normal functioning. Polygon PT offers post-operative rehab for wrist fusion surgery. Post-operative rehab is aimed at relieving pain, muscle spasms and swelling, and restoring wrist flexibility. Manual therapy with strength and motion exercises will be used to achieve this. Don’t rush the recovery process, it will take a couple of months for complete recovery. During this time, too much pressure on the wrist should be avoided.

Get Started With Physical Therapy and Rehab for Wrist Fusion Today

For quick and complete recovery to your wrist, well-structured rehab treatment is essential. Contact a physical therapist today at Polygon PT to get started. Regain full use of your wrist!