What is Wrist Arthritis?
Wrist arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints of the wrist. Wrist comprises many small joints, and inflammation of these joints can be a sign of arthritis. Arthritis destroys cartilage and causing the bones to rub against one another. Pain and stiffness are the two major symptoms of wrist arthritis, which makes your wrist motion limited.
Types of Wrist Arthritis
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), there are primarily three types of arthritis that affect the human wrist. These includes:
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of wrist pain in older age people. This develops due to normal “wear-and-tear” in the wrist cartilage. The risk factors include aging, hereditary, high BMI, older age, and gender. A recent study shows that about 30 million Americans have osteoarthritis. In the case of the young population, it results secondary after a joint injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect multiple peripheral joints symmetrically throughout the body. The actual cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown to the scientist. This condition primarily starts in smaller joints of the hand and wrist. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body, that’s why it is symmetrical.
Posttraumatic arthritis (PTA)
Post-traumatic arthritis develops as a result of traumatic events like injuries to the wrist joint or ligaments. This injury can result from sports, a car accident, a fall, or other trauma. This trauma causes direct injury to the bone or a delayed wearing of the cartilage that increases the risk of developing arthritis over time. This can appear in the victim many years after the initial injury.
Symptoms of Wrist Arthritis
Symptoms can vary according to their severity, condition, and types of arthritis. These includes:
- Pain in the joint
- Weakness in the joint
- Swelling of the joint
- Loss of motion of involved joint
- Difficulties in gripping the object
- Clicking or cracking sounds on movement
Diagnosis of Wrist Arthritis
The initial diagnosis of wrist arthritis includes a brief history and physical examination of the patients. Your physicians may further confirm by:
- X-ray imaging: This helps to locate the position and severity of arthritis;
- Blood test: Doctors recommend blood tests to determine which type of arthritis you have. Osteoarthritis is not associated with blood abnormalities; and
- Special tests: Tinel sign, Carpal compression test, Phalen test, Finkelstein test, etc.;
Treatment of Wrist Arthritis
Unfortunately, arthritis doesn’t have a cure but treatments can help manage your symptoms and relieve pain, which include:
- First-line therapy associated with pain reliever by using acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants;
- Muscle relaxants help to calm muscles and ease pain and tightness;
- The topical therapy with hot or cold fomentation to reduce pain;
- Physical therapy includes stretching and strengthening of the wrist muscles;
- Herbal supplements: Some supplements such as capsaicin, turmeric, fish oil can help with pain and swelling;
- Other natural remedies like meditation, massage, acupuncture, etc. can help to relieve pain;
- Injection of corticosteroids like methylprednisolone or radiofrequency ablation recommended when conservative treatment did not respond well;