Wrist and Hand Arthritis

Hand Pain | Dr James McLean | Orthopaedic Surgeon | ASULC | Adelaide

The most common medications for arthritis are anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatories work to stop the body from producing the chemicals that cause joint swelling and pain.

Applying heat or ice
Ice helps reduce swelling and pain, while heat may help your joints loosen up.

Resting the affected area
Cutting back or stopping altogether the activities that are causing pain can give your affected fingers or wrist a chance for inflammation to ease. Splinting can also help keep the affected joint/s still for a time, although wearing one for too long can lead to muscle deterioration.

Dietary supplements
Glucosamine is a compound involved in the building of cartilage. It can sometimes provide relief from symptoms of arthritis, although there is no definitive evidence that it actually helps.

A hand therapist can provide therapeutic exercises that may ease symptoms and promote healthy joint function.

Cortisone injections
Injecting the joints with a steroidal solution may relieve symptoms for a period of time. These injections sometimes need to be repeated and are not suitable for long-term use.

When non-surgical measures do not adequately relieve symptoms, or when arthritis interferes too much with daily life, Dr McLean may recommend surgical intervention.

Surgical options aim to reduce symptoms and improve joint function. Dr McLean is a locally and internationally trained Orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in key-hole and reconstructive surgery. He uses minimally invasive treatments wherever possible so patients experience minimal physical trauma and can get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may consider the following surgical interventions for your condition:

Reconstructive surgery
This procedure involves removing the arthritic bone/s and replacing it with a piece of forearm tendon. It can be highly effective for reducing pain and restoring function, particularly in the thumb. This video shows the process of treating thumb arthritis with a tendon transplant.

Thumb Arthritis Surgery Video Thumbnail

Link contains video of surgical procedures

Joint fusion
Also called arthrodesis, this option involves fusing the joint to stabilise and strengthen it while also eliminating pain. The downside to this procedure is that the joint can no longer be bent afterwards.

Joint replacement
This procedure can be useful for those with rheumatoid arthritis. It involves replacing problematic joints with artificial ones. These artificial joints tend to wear down over time.
Length of recovery differs depending on a number of factors, including the type and severity of your arthritis, and the type of surgery performed. Dr McLean will provide you with detailed information during your pre- and post-surgery consultations.