Wrist is composed of two bones of the forearm (ulna & radius) & has eight vital bones known as carpals that provide support & movement to the hand. Various ligaments affix these bones to each other. Joint surfaces are concealed with a solid lubricating tissue known as cartilage. Cartilage plays the role of a shock absorber, restricting contact of bones & maintaining a smooth & evident surface for bones to glide against each other. Joint replacement surgery in the wrist can be a treatment option if patients have painful arthritis in hand which are limiting functions & developing a harsh condition which does not respond to other treatments. In wrist replacement surgery, impaired portions of wrist bones are eliminated & replaced with artificial components called prosthesis.
What is Wrist Replacement Surgery?
Wrist replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, eliminates damaged cartilage & bone in joints. Bone is refinished & fixed up with implants made from polyethylene (plastic) & metal alloy in order to re-create a plain gliding surface that was once intact. Artificial implants create a new ball & socket joint that gives much-enhanced wrist function for patients suffering from arthritis. Aim of this procedure is to rebuild movement & minimize or completely eliminate discomforting pain. Major indications for wrist replacement surgery, which are not treatable by any other technique, include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bone fracture & trauma.
Common causes of wrist pain range from diseases such as arthritis to repetitive stress injuries. Damage to cartilage, ligaments or bones that cushion the patient’s joint may cause harsh pain & affect patient’s ability to use hand & wrist.
Two common & major areas of wrist problems are given below.
- Arthritic Wrist – Arthritis is a discomforting condition which is defined as inflammation of the joint. Arthritis affects millions of people each year with symptoms including stiffness, pain, loss of motion & swelling in affected joints. Two most common types of arthritis which generally affect the patient’s wrist are osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis – It is the most common type of arthritis which results in the wearing out of cartilage that cushions & supports the bones inside joints.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – When rheumatoid arthritis is present in patients, the cartilage is deprived of sufficient lubrication & nourishment leading to loss of motion & discomforting pain in wrist.
- Wrist Injuries – Some most common types of wrist injuries include ligament sprains & tears & carpel tunnel syndrome. These injuries can happen due to long-term overuse of wrist, such as pushing, repetitive lifting, pulling & throwing. This is the reason why athletes & skilled workers are most prone to wrist injuries. Common types of wrist injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, tendonitis & ligament sprains & tears.
- Fractures – Fractures can be defined as injuries to wrist bones.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – This is a wrist injury that may occur from repetitive motion of the wrist. Median nerve which passes through the carpal tunnel is compressed in this condition.
- Tendonitis – This is a condition which results in inflammation of tendon or region surrounding the tendon.
- Ligament Sprains & Tears – This results from injuries that happen when patients fall in the forward direction onto their outstretched hand. It can also occur when patients push heavy objects.
Wrist injury may lead to serious problems if remain untreated. Some common signs & symptoms of wrist injury include the following.
- Wrist pain at night which causes sleeplessness
- Harsh wrist pain that restricts daily activities
- Limited range of motion
- Joint swelling
- Reduced grip strength
- Numbness in hands
- Crooked wrist
- ‘Pins & needles’ feeling in fingers
- Burning or tingling sensation
- Difficulty while bending wrist
When wrist of patients has weakened by traumatic injury or arthritis, wrist replacement surgery can help them recover lost strength & give stability to the wrist which one needs to lead an active life. Patients should consider wrist replacement when a painful & arthritic wrist has not responded to traditional treatments such as cortisone injections, splinting or pain relievers.
Orthopedic surgeons will carefully evaluate patient’s health history, perform a physical examination & take x-ray tests to diagnose severity of wrist pain.
- Medical history
- Symptoms of injured or damaged wrists
- Current health status
- Examine affected joints
- Different range of motion tests like joint-line tenderness & joint deformities
X-Rays – In an x-ray of joints affected by osteoarthritis, there is bone on bone contact due to deterioration of the cartilage. When non-surgical alternatives such as exercise, diet, supplements, medications & physical therapy fail, then orthopedic surgeons may suggest wrist replacement surgery.
Arthritis in the wrist joint is very common in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Some patients may require surgery if the wrist joint is extremely painful & has failed to respond to other treatments. When patient’s wrist is badly affected by this condition, moving the hand up, down & sideways may be highly discomforting. There are two surgical options available to treat this condition.
- Wrist Fusion – Wrist fusion may be recommended if the wrist is strictly damaged. This procedure minimizes pain & increases wrist strength but usually stops patients from moving their wrists up & down. However, patients will probably find it simpler to turn the hand.
- Wrist Joint Replacement – Wrist joint replacement is not common surgery. Goal of this surgery is to keep wrist movement & get rid of the disturbing pain.
Some harsh degenerative problems of the wrist may require substituting painful joint with an artificial wrist joint. Orthopedic surgeons & patients together should make a decision whether they want a wrist replacement surgery. Once patients decide on surgery, they need to take following steps.
- Physical Assessment – Orthopedic surgeons may recommend a complete physical assessment test prior to wrist replacement surgery.This examination helps ensure that patients are in good condition & fit enough to undergo surgery.
- Physical Therapist – Patients may want to spend time with the physical therapist managing rehabilitation after wrist replacement surgery. A physical therapist will precisely check patient’s current pain levels, ability to perform daily activities & strength & movement of each wrist. Therapists can also help patients anticipate basic requirements or some problems patients might have to face at home, once they are discharged from the hospital.
- Food Intake – Patients should not drink or eat anything 10 – 12 hours prior to surgery. Patients should be prepared to stay under the monitoring of doctors for a few hours after surgery.
Patients should understand as much about wrist replacement surgery as possible before undergoing the procedure. When they have any concerns or questions, they should openly talk to orthopedic surgeons. Below is a list of several questions that patients may ask surgeons.
- Why does my wrist hurt so much?
- What is arthritis?
- What is wrist replacement surgery?
- What are major benefits of wrist replacement surgery?
- How long does artificial wrist implant last?
- Do artificial implants fail & can they be replaced again?
- Can you explain non-surgical treatment options which are available for me before considering wrist replacement surgery?
- What will happen if I don’t wish to undergo wrist replacement surgery?
- Is age factor a consideration for wrist replacement surgery?
- What results can I expect from wrist replacement surgery?
- Will I experience anything new about my wrist post-surgery?
- Are there risks associated with this type of surgery?
- How can I prepare for wrist replacement surgery?
- How long will it take to resume regular activities post-surgery?
- When can I return back to work?
- Are follow-up sessions required after wrist replacement surgery?
Wrist replacement surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure & is often mixed with several other procedures to correct disorders or deformities of the nerves, tendons & small joints of the thumb & fingers. An incision is carved on the backside of the wrist. Injured or damaged ends of lower arm bones are eliminated & the first row of carpal bones may also be taken off. Radial component of artificial implant known as prosthesis is planted into the middle of the radius bone on outside region of the lower arm. It is held in proper position with bone cement. Depending upon the design of the component, the carpal component is then planted into the middle hand bone. Bone cement is usually used to grip components in appropriate place. Carpal bones may be fused or linked together to protect this component. Suitably sized spacer is then used in between these metal components.
Although pain relief is prompt, steady exercises will be required to be performed for a few weeks to regain movement & ultimately & to enhance power & stamina. Wrist replacement surgery can improve motion to about 60 percent of normal. Physical demands that are set on the wrist implant may have an effect on the durability of the implant. There will also be some restrictions. Use of pneumatic tools or hammer should be avoided. Heavy weight lifting should be limited as it may cause fractures. On an average, wrist replacement implant is expected to last 12 to 15 years with careful use. Long-term follow-up is advised after every year to identify any adverse conditions.
Some of the general complications & risks associated with wrist replacement surgery are listed below.
- Infection – Severe infection may be a complication following wrist replacement surgery. However, infection usually occurs in approximately 2 – 3 percent of cases only.
- Loosening – Artificial joints may fail eventually due to loosening process where the cement or metal meets the bone. Various advances are made to protect artificial joints from loosening but with time, they get loose & require additional surgery. Chances of implant failure are much greater in younger & active patients.
- Nerve Injury – All blood vessels & nerves that go to the hand move across the wrist joint. Wrist replacement surgery is done carefully & the operation site is extremely close to these structures & so can introduce a chance of injury either to blood vessels or to nerves.
Wrist replacement surgery mostly succeeds at regaining function of the wrist. Wrist replacement is generally expected to last for 12 – 15 years. Major outcomes of wrist replacement surgery are enumerated below.
- Minimized or reduced pain
- Enhance mobility & movement of wrist
- Low-impact sports & activities
- Improved quality of patient’s life
- Prompt return to daily activities
Global Medical Tourism for Wrist Replacement Surgery
Medical tourism is now recognized worldwide as an excellent opportunity for affordable healthcare. With rising cost of healthcare across many countries, mostly developed countries in the west, there are several nations around the world who have developed policies to strengthen their healthcare infrastructure. The health sector in these countries has advanced speedily in past few years with some finest healthcare facilities, state of the art technology & supremely qualified medical professionals. Numerous measures including easy access to medical visas have been combined with smoothly accessible top-quality medical provisions at low prices & which has made these healthcare destinations medical hotspots. Billions of international patients visit these centers following these essential key strengths.
Key Strengths for Medical Tourism
- Large number of multispecialty hospitals & medical institutions
- Less waiting-period than most of the developed countries for surgeries including wrist replacement surgery
Travcure Medical Tourism for Best & Affordable Wrist Replacement Surgery
Travcure Medical Tourism is one of the best global health tourism providers offering a wide range of healthcare services at extremely affordable prices. Travcure has close ties with most eminent & internationally accredited hospitals in Turkey, Germany, United Arab Emirates, South Korea & India. Health experts at Travcure completely understand the doubts & anxieties of international patients seeking surgeries abroad. Therefore, they take complete care of each & every need of international patients. Travcure provides best possible surgery for orthopedic conditions including damaged wrists.
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