What is Wrist Oseoarthritis?
Your wrist is made up of eight small bones in the hand (carpals), and the two bones that make the base of your forearm (the ulna and radius).
Cartilage, a smooth, rubbery coating that acts as your body’s shock absorbers, covers all of these bones, allowing your wrist to move smoothly and painlessly.
Wrist osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage surrounding the ends of your wrist bones wears away and eventually exposes the bone.
As the disease progresses, painful bone spurs called osteophytes can form in the place of cartilage.
What Causes Wrist Osteoarthritis?
There is no one cause of wrist OA, but several factors increase your risk of developing it, including:
- Increasing age, especially over 65
- Gender – women are more likely to get osteoarthritis
- Being overweight
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Previous wrist injuries
- Long-term, repetitive strain on your wrists, whether occupational or recreational
- Genetic defects in the cartilage or wrist
- A history of Kienböck’s disease, which is a breakdown of one of the carpal bones
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Wrist Osteoarthritis?
The most common symptom of wrist OA is pain in the wrist joint. Most often, the pain develops slowly over time, but it can appear suddenly.
Other signs and symptoms of wrist OA include:
- Swelling or tenderness of the wrist joint
- Stiffness in the wrist, especially first thing in the morning or after periods of inactivity
- A crunching, clicking, or snapping sound (known as crepitus) when moving your wrist
- Weakness of the wrist and difficulty gripping objects
- Decreased range of motion and pain while doing routine activities such as opening jars, turning a key or doorknob, writing, or gripping the steering wheel of a car
- Pain during or after strenuous activity
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis is also common in the wrist.
Concerned about symptoms of wrist osteoarthritis? Find a physiotherapist near you and book an assessment today.
How is Wrist Osteoarthritis Treated?
Treatments for wrist osteoarthritis typically include medications, physiotherapy, and surgery, though surgery should be considered only as a last resort, and many drugs carry serious side effects.
Treatments for wrist osteoarthritis include:
- Medications, including:
- Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Topical medications such as creams, sprays, gels or patches
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), though these drugs can have serious side effects
- Corticosteroid injections, though these cannot be continued for a long period of time
- Surgery – if surgery is necessary after other less invasive treatments have not helped, physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation
Physiotherapy for Wrist Osteoarthritis
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that has been proven to reduce osteoarthritis pain.
The goal of physiotherapy for wrist osteoarthritis is to prevent the progression of the disease, reduce pain, regain strength, and increase joint mobility, function, and quality of life.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for wrist osteoarthritis can include:
- Stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises
- Activity modification and functional retraining
- Splinting, bracing, or compression gloves
- Patient education so you can feel in control of your condition
- Cross-disciplinary pain-relieving therapies such as:
Can Cervical Osteoarthritis Go Away on Its Own?
Unfortunately, no. There is no cure for wrist osteoarthritis, but with proper treatment, the disease can be managed effectively and progression stopped or delayed.
If you have wrist osteoarthritis, there are things you can do to make daily living easier, including:
- Minimizing activities that put stress on your wrist, such as tennis
- Applying heat and cold therapy
- Using assistive devices such as jar openers, key turners, and large zipper pulls; using larger pens; using kitchen utensils and tools with larger handles
- Replacing doorknobs with levers that you push down on, not turn
- Using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse
- Wearing a wrist brace, sleeve, or glove to support the wrist while sleeping or while doing repetitive motions during the day
Can You Prevent Wrist Osteoarthritis?
There are many things you can do to prevent or reduce the chance of developing wrist osteoarthritis, including:
- Exercising regularly, including stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi (at least 30 minutes every day)
- Eating a non-inflammatory diet (avoiding processed and refined foods and sugar)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Book a Physiotherapist Consult for Wrist Osteoarthritis Today
Concerned about symptoms of wrist osteoarthritis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.