Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used by orthopaedic surgeons to diagnose and treat problems inside a joint. The wrist is a complex joint with eight small bones and many connecting ligaments.
Arthroscopy enables the surgeon to see the anatomic parts and their movements without making large incisions into the muscle and tissue. An arthroscope is used for two reasons: to make more accurate diagnoses (diagnostic arthroscopy) and to correct any problems with the joint.
Arthritis of the Wrist
Although there are many kinds of arthritis, most wrist pain is caused by the following two types:
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive condition that destroys the smooth articular cartilage covering the ends of bones. The bare bones rub against each other, resulting in pain, stiffness, and weakness. Osteoarthritis can develop due to normal “wear-and-tear” on the wrist or as a result of a traumatic injury to the forearm, wrist, or ligaments.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease that affects the joint linings and destroys bones, tissues, and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in smaller joints, like those found in the hand and wrist. It is symmetrical, meaning that it usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body.
A trigger finger occurs when the motion of the tendon that opens and closes the finger is limited, causing the finger to lock or catch as the finger is extended.
The cause is not always known. Trigger fingers are more common in women than men. They occur most frequently in people who are between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age. Trigger fingers are more common in people with certain medical problems, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
De Quervain’s Tendonitis
De Quervain’s tendinitis occurs when the tendons around the base of the thumb are irritated or constricted. The word “tendinitis” refers to a swelling of the tendons. Thickening of the tendons can cause pain and tenderness along the thumb side of the wrist. This is particularly noticeable when forming a fist, grasping or gripping things, or when turning the wrist.
There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for wrist tendonitis.
Ganglion (Cyst) of the Wrist
Ganglion cysts arise from the capsule of a joint or the sheath of a tendon. They can be found at different places on the wrist. A ganglion cyst that grows on the top of the wrist is called a dorsal ganglion. Others are found on the underside of the wrist between the thumb and your pulse point, at the end joint of a finger, or at the base of a finger. Most of the time, these are harmless and will often disappear in time.
Distal Radius (Wrist) Fracture
Distal radius fractures are very common. In fact, the radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm. The break usually happens when a fall causes someone to land on their outstretched hands. It can also happen in a car accident, a bike accident, a skiing accident, and similar situations.
Sometimes, the other bone of the forearm (the ulna) is also broken. When this happens, it is called a distal ulna fracture.
Arthritis of the Thumb
Arthritis of the base of the thumb is more common in women than in men, and usually occurs after 40 years of age. Prior fractures or other injuries to the joint may increase the likelihood of developing this condition.