January 01, 2011

Wrist arthritis

Reducing pain, increasing function

Wrist arthritis

You've had a dull ache in your wrist for some time, right in the same area where you broke it years ago. Recently, though, it's become much more painful to do certain tasks — such as turning a doorknob or carrying a grocery bag. You wonder if that broken wrist all those years ago has something to do with the wrist pain that you're experiencing now. It just might.

A common source of wrist pain in older adults is the development of arthritis, which can take several forms. Wrist arthritis most commonly develops as a result of past trauma or fracture in the affected wrist area. For many, there are simple steps that can reduce pain and maintain as much function as possible.

Many angles

The wrist is a complicated joint made up of eight small, roundish bones with various joints. The joints of the wrist bones serve as an interface between the two long bones of the forearm and the five bones that connect to each finger.

Your wrists give your hands amazing range of motion and are fairly durable. Arthritis due solely to normal wear and tear doesn't often occur in the wrist. Rather, arthritis at the wrist usually occurs only when there has been a past trauma — such as a wrist bone fracture or ligament tear. When this traumatic arthritis occurs, symptoms usually include pain, stiffness and weakness.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis. In it, the joint linings (synovial membranes)...