The Basics of Wrist Surgery

The wrist is a very complex joint, with lots of moving parts. Its very complexity and flexibility means that when something goes wrong, many of the most basic daily activities can become very difficult. Wrist surgery performed by a hand specialist may be necessary to restore function and relieve wrist pain. Here’s some information on the basics of wrist surgery, from the Florida Hand Center.

All About the Wrist

The wrist is the meeting point between the two bones in the lower forearm (the radius and ulna) and the bones of the hand. The eight bones of the wrist are joined to each other by one or more ligaments. The wrist actually has few muscles, as most of the muscles that act on the wrist are located in the lower forearm. The radial, median and ulnar nerves pass from the forearm across the wrist and into the hand. Any of these structures may become damaged or diseased and require surgery.

Why Would I Need Wrist Surgery?

One of the most common reasons for wrist surgery is an injury. Putting out a hand to help break a fall is an instinctive move for most people, but it often means the full weight of the body lands on the wrist. A minor fracture may be treated with a splint or cast, but a more serious fracture may require the services of a hand surgeon to ensure full function after recovery. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause deformities that can only be corrected with hand surgery. If the median nerve is compressed (carpal tunnel syndrome), surgery may be necessary to free it.

What’s the Procedure for Wrist Surgery?

A hand surgeon can perform two different kinds of wrist or hand surgery. The first is called an arthroscopic surgery. An arthroscope is a special tool with a small camera on the end. It is inserted into the surgical area through a small incision in the skin. A second incision (sometimes two are required) is made to allow small instruments to be inserted to perform the surgery. An open hand or wrist surgery is the conventional operation in which a larger incision is made to expose the surgical area.

What About Aftercare and Recovery?

Most surgeries on the wrist and hand are outpatient procedures. You should be able to go home shortly after the surgery (you’ll need a driver). The wrist will be bandaged and in a splint, brace or cast to prevent the area from moving. You should keep the wrist elevated to reduce swelling and pain, and the hand doctor may recommend ice packs for the same reason. Physical therapy is required after you heal to get full function back in the wrist or hand.

Wrist surgery and hand surgery require the services of a hand specialist. If you have wrist problems like rheumatoid arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, or have suffered an injury, please contact us at the Florida Hand Center. Our hand doctors can assess your situation and make a recommendation for care.