Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint. Arthritis can occur in the wrist joint, making several daily activities and movements more difficult. The wrist joint is a synovial joint located between the hand and forearm. It is made up of several small joints protected by cartilage. It also contains bones, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues. As arthritis in the wrist progresses, the bones of the joints can rub against each other leading to permanent joint damage.
What are the causes and symptoms of wrist arthritis?
Many types of arthritis can affect the wrist. The most common types of arthritis that affect the wrist include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post traumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops due to wear and tear, especially in those with a family history of osteoarthritis. Though it is more common in older patients, it can occur in younger patients as well. When the joint is affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears away over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is autoimmune disease that affects the joints of the body. The disease is symmetrical, meaning that it can affect the same joint on different sides of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to attack is own healthy tissues, damaging cartilage and ligaments and potentially softening bones. There is no genetic or environmental cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Posttraumatic arthritis occurs due to injuries such as fractures or ligament tears the affect the joint. This type of arthritis can develop several years after an injury. Symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, a reduced range of motion, and weakness of the joint.
How is wrist arthritis diagnosed and treated?
While there is no cure for arthritis, symptoms can be managed so further joint damage can be prevented. In order to diagnose arthritis, a doctor will conduct a physical exam and assess the joint for a reduced range of motion, instability, swelling, and any pain or tenderness. The doctor may also examine certain movements of the joint such as the mobility of the fingers or thumb, as well as nerve function. They may also order x-rays and blood tests to help diagnose arthritis or rule out other conditions.
Treatment for arthritis can include nonsurgical treatments such as modifying activities, rest, medications such as NSAIDs, exercises, and steroid injections. Additional medications can be prescribed depending on the type and severity of the arthritis. Patients may also need physical therapy. If nonsurgical treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary. Patients should follow the recommendations of their doctor and physical therapist to regain optimal mobility.