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Wrist Replacement

Do you:

  • Suffer from severe wrist arthritis pain despite conservative treatment?
  • Have diminished grip strength and limited hand use due to wrist arthritis?
  • Want to enjoy a normal range of motion and stability in your wrist and hand?
  • Need to perform normal daily activities—but not heavy labor or contact sports?

Wrist replacement surgery could be a good choice for you.

Are you a candidate for wrist replacement?

If your wrists have been weakened by arthritis or a traumatic injury, wrist replacement surgery can help you regain lost strength and give your wrist the stability you need to lead an active life. You should consider wrist replacement if you have a painful, arthritic wrist that hasn’t responded to conservative treatment such as pain relievers, cortisone injections or splinting. Dr. John Krebs has advanced training in hand surgery, a sub-specialty of orthopedic surgery. In addition to his orthopedic surgery training, Dr. Krebs completed a Cleveland Combined Hand Fellowship at the University Hospitals of Cleveland and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is board-certified in orthopedic surgery, and certified with added qualifications (CAQ) in hand surgery by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Krebs is trained in state-of-the-art hand surgery procedures like wrist replacement and can help restore your hands’ normal function.

Dr. John Krebs answers questions about wrist replacement surgery

Who is more likely to need a wrist replacement—a patient with osteoarthritis or one with rheumatoid arthritis?

“I do more wrist replacements on patients with osteoarthritis. Today’s prescription drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, have gotten much better at controlling RA symptoms.”

What are the surgical choices to treat wrist arthritis?

“In the past, the best solution was to fuse the wrist. It was permanent, but it meant you couldn’t move your wrist joint anymore. You could still use your hand because it would be positioned in a way that you could still grip. “Wrist fusion surgery is still probably a good choice for people who need to perform heavy labor, and whose wrists are going to get a lot of wear and tear. But if you want to maintain your range of motion, wrist replacement surgery is a better way to go.”

How has wrist replacement surgery improved over the years?

“The wrist replacement procedures we do today are better than the ones we did 10 years ago. We used to use metal implants that took more of the patient’s bone, so that if the surgery failed, it made the situation much worse. “The wrist replacement design now allows us to take very little bone from the wrist. We take only the proximal row of carpal bones and leave the distal carpal row intact—so in the event the wrist replacement surgery fails, we still have enough bone to fuse the wrist if necessary. “Today’s wrist replacement materials and surgical techniques have been a wonderful addition to the treatment choices for wrist arthritis—something for which, in the past, our only surgical option was to fuse the wrist.”

What is the typical age range for wrist replacement?

“We normally do wrist replacements on patients age 50 and older. But occasionally we get younger patients who have seriously injured their wrist—in a motorcycle accident, for example—and they choose wrist replacement so they can have a normally functioning wrist.”

Is wrist replacement an inpatient or an outpatient procedure?

“Wrist replacement is typically an inpatient procedure. You can expect to spend one night in the hospital after wrist replacement surgery.”

Will I need to go through physical therapy after wrist replacement?

“Yes. You can expect to have physical therapy three times a week for about four weeks after your wrist replacement surgery. Each case is individual.”

What can I expect after wrist replacement surgery?

“After wrist replacement surgery, you can expect to have pain-free function of your hands. How soon you can return to work depends on your progress and the type of work you do. Some patients who have a desk job can return to work in two weeks. “You will need to wear a protective brace for the first month after your wrist replacement surgery, but your fingers will be free to move. By six weeks after surgery, you will be free to do whatever you’re comfortable doing. You won’t be doing pushups or handstands, but you’ll be able to write, type and perform most normal functions.” Call 440.329.2800 for an appointment today.

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