FAQ Category: Wrist


I’m scheduled to have both of my wrists replaced with implants that are now available. I know there can be potential problems with any surgery. Fill me in on the most likely complications so I can be mentally prepared.

Yes, there are hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, finger, and now wrist joint replacements! Wrist replacement is also known as total wrist arthroplasty or TWA. As with any surgical procedure, there can be intraoperative (during surgery) and postoperative (after surgery) problems that develop. These might include blood clot formation, heart attack, […]


Can you tell me the status of wrist replacement surgery these days? I know I’ll need a wrist replacement at some point. I’m just waiting for the technology to improve enough to ensure a good result. So far from what I’ve seen in blogs and chat rooms, lots of people who get them aren’t happy.

You are right — there are wrist replacements also known as total wrist arthroplasty or TWA available now. As with any new surgical procedure, one of the first things surgeons looked for were those patients who could benefit the most from this new treatment. In the case of wrist joint […]


About a year ago, I fell while skateboarding with my 10-year-old granddaughter. At age 67, I know it was a stupid thing to do but I don’t regret it. What I do regret is the fact that the wrist I broke in the fall still clunks and hurts. And I don’t have the strength I need in that hand to pull weeds or lift a bag of dirt for my garden. What do you advise?

It sounds like there may be some instability in the wrist. That means some of the soft tissues (ligaments, cartilage) might have been injured at the same time as the bone fracture. There is one ligament in particular that could cause the kind of symptoms you have described if and […]


Years ago I received dire warnings that my wrist fracture and a triangle ligament tear would probably cause arthritis. I had the wrist in a cast but they didn’t fix the torn ligaments. So far, I haven’t had any problems like that. I know my grip isn’t as strong on that side but I have learned how to get around that. What happens to other people with this kind of problem who don’t have surgery to fix the torn ligaments?

You will probably be interested in the results of a study done by several hand surgeons from Sweden. They took a look at what happened to a group of patients with a displaced distal radial fracture that also caused a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear. The fracture was treated but […]


I dislocated a bone in my wrist (the lunate) when I fell off my bike and hit the pavement with my wrists. When I looked on-line I saw how this bone is protected by the other bones around it. Nothing else was dislocated so how or why did this one pop out?

The lunate carpal (wrist) bone is neatly tucked in between the two bones of the forearm, the two other carpal bones on either side, and another row of carpal bones next to the fingers. It doesn’t dislocate easily and usually only after significant high-energy trauma. Falling off a bike and […]


I am a construction worker just getting back to work part-time after a wrist injury that dislocated my lunate bone and tore the ligaments around it. Can I expect to get full recovery? No one seems to be willing to say “yes,” “no,” or even “maybe.”

The lunate carpal (wrist) bone doesn’t dislocate easily and usually only after significant high-energy trauma. The lunate is well-stabilized because it is neatly tucked in between the two bones of the forearm, the two other carpal bones on either side, and another row of carpal bones next to the fingers. […]


What is ulnocarpal impaction syndrome?

To understand ulnocarpal impaction syndrome, picture where the ulnar bone of the forearm meets the wrist. This will be on the little finger side of the wrist. The two bones are jammed together (ulna against the wrist). The condition usually causes pain along that side of the wrist. The constant […]


How long does it take to recover from surgery for a torn triangular cartilage in the wrist? It took six months before I finally realized it wasn’t going to heal without surgery. Is this going to take another six months? I can’t believe how much time I’ve wasted trying everything from herbs and acupuncture to exercises and rehab. I need a break!

The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is an important feature of the wrist. It suspends the ends of the radius and ulna bones of the forearm over the wrist. As the name suggests, it is triangular in shape and made up of several ligaments and cartilage. The TFCC makes it possible […]


I fell and broke my left wrist about seven weeks ago. Doctor slapped a cast on that baby and I thought I was good to go. Then I discovered last week that a tendon to my thumb ruptured. How can that happen with a cast on? I don’t get it.

Wrist fractures involving the radius bone of the forearm has a well-known complication associated with it. And you have just experienced that — rupture of the extensor pollicis longus (EPL) tendon of the thumb. This tendon helps move both the tip of the thumb and the wrist, so damage to […]


Do you think if I have surgery to cut the nerves to my wrist, I’ll lose the sense of where my hands are? I am a musician in need of pain relief but not at the expense of not feeling my wrists and hands.

Wrist pain can be very chronic and very debilitating sometimes. When conservative (nonoperative) care isn’t successful in changing the clinical picture, then wrist denervation may be advised. This procedure has been done many many times with reliable results. Pain relief without loss of motion is the goal. Cutting the sensory […]


When I saw the hand therapist for my wrist pain, she did some interesting tests on me. She would put my wrist and hand in one position and tell me to remember how that felt. I wasn’t allowed to look during the test. Then she shook my wrist and hand out and asked me to go back to the position I was in before she shook me out. I was surprised how accurate I was. What’s the mechanism behind this?

When you move your wrist up and down and back and forth, you are able to sense just how much movement is occurring. The sense of joint position and movement makes up what we call proprioception and kinesthesia. For a long time, we thought the information about proprioception and kinesthesia […]


I’m having some mild pain along the little finger side of the wrist. The hand surgeon I saw last week thinks it is something called ulnar styloid impaction syndrome. I looked that up on the internet so I think I have a pretty good understanding of what it is. What I didn’t find was what will happen if I don’t have the recommended surgery? Can you help answer that question?

Just to be clear on what this problem is, ulnar styloid impaction refers to a condition causing ulnar-sided wrist pain because there is a short ulna (one of the two bones of the forearm) and a long styloid. The styloid is a piece of bone at the end of the […]


I have a wrist problem called Kienböck Disease. I’ve seen two surgeons who both want to do surgery. One suggested grafting a piece of bone to that area to help restore the blood supply. The other wants to shorten one of the bones in my forearm. Neither one of these appeals to me. Is there some other way to handle this problem?

Treatment of Kienböck Disease is usually directed toward taking pressure off the affected carpal (wrist) bone (the lunate). Preventing collapse of the lunate and helping to restore blood flow to the area are the two main goals of treatment. Transplantation of a bone graft with an intact blood supply is […]


Dad was just diagnosed with Kienböck Disease of the wrist. Like the stubborn man he is, he is refusing any treatment. What will happen without the surgery the doctor is recommending? Can he heal on his own?

Kienböck disease is a condition in which one of the small bones of the wrist loses its blood supply and dies, causing pain and stiffness with wrist motion. Kienbock’s disease usually progresses slowly over many years. To help understand it and recommend what treatment is best, hand surgeons divide the […]


I’ve been hobbling along for months now with wrist pain — mostly along the pinky side but the whole wrist hurts. Sometimes it swells up and starts to click. It’s starting to affect my bowling score so I guess it’s time to do something about it. The question is what? Would an X-ray help? I know it’s not broken but I don’t know what’s wrong.

Wrist pain along the ulnar side is the main symptom of a condition called a triangular fibrocartilage complex tear (TFCC). It is triangular in shape and made up of several ligaments and cartilage. The TFCC makes it possible for the wrist to move in six different directions (bending, straightening, twisting, […]


I am frustrated and very anxious. I have a torn TFCC in my right wrist (I am right handed). I’ve spent the last three months in a splint with no change in my pain. If it was going to heal on its own, would it have happened by now? The surgeon is recommending an arthroscopic exam before trying something different. What do you think?

As the name suggests, triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) is triangular in shape and made up of several ligaments and cartilage. It stabilizes the distal radioulnar joint (where the two bones of the forearm meet at the wrist) while improving the range of motion and gliding action within the wrist. The […]


I’m doing a school project on my uncle’s wrist fracture. I hope to be a surgeon myself someday. He gave me all the pictures the surgeon took during the operation. One thing I don’t understand is a photo with his fingers in what looks like a Chinese finger trap. What does that do?

Wrist fractures (or any fracture for that matter) can be comminuted and/or impacted requiring traction to pull the pieces apart. Comminuted means the bone has broken into several fragments (often there are many tiny pieces). Impacted tells us the bones have been jammed together. Traction gives a distractive force needed […]