We provide specialist care and expertise for a wide range of conditions that affect your wrist and well it works. Our hand orthopaedic surgeons are highly trained in treating common wrist complaints.

Wrist Orthopaedics

Orthopaedics Infoline

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I have a wrist condition, what are my next steps?

The wrist is actually made up of several small joints that connect the hand to the forearm. When everything is working well it gives us strength and flexibility, enabling us to transfer force from the arm to the hand. If you are experiencing wrist pain from an injury or underlying condition, your doctor may refer you to an orthopaedic hand surgeon who specialises specifically in the wrist, hand and forearm.

Wrist pain can be caused simply by a sprain or fracture from sudden injury, such as falling forward onto an outstretched hand. Conditions such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive stress can also cause persistent wrist pain that may require specialist attention. 

Wrist problems are treated by orthopaedic hand surgeons. Surgery is only recommended when there is a clear benefit to the patient such as in the event of traumatic injury, reconstructive surgery or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wrist conditions are often accompanied by pain, swelling, bruising and stiffness in the joints. Nerve-related conditions can also be indicated by numbness and tingling. Wrist pain does not always require medical attention, but if the pain persists or worsens it is best to seek help from a healthcare professional.

At St Vincent’s Private Hospitals, our specialist orthopaedic hand surgeons are considered among Australia’s leading practitioners. We are committed to supporting patients at every step of their healthcare journey through surgical excellence, outstanding facilities and patient-centred care. 

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  • Step 1


    See your GP about getting a referral for your specialist appointment at your nearest St Vincent’s Private Hospital.

  • Step 2


    Talk to our world-leading specialists about the most suitable treatment options available to support your needs.

  • Step 3


    Experience the streamlined care available from our team of experts as we help support you through your hospital admission, procedure and rehabilitation.

  • Step 4


    Our rehabilitation team will guide you each step of the way as you regain your strength and independence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The wrist is made up of several small joints that connect the hand to the forearm. It gives us strength and flexibility, and the ability to transfer force from the arm to the hand. When this is disrupted by overuse, injury or disease, your hand orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery to restore functionality. The most common wrist surgeries are carpal tunnel release, wrist arthroscopy, wrist fusion surgery and wrist reconstruction surgery.
Wrist conditions are varied and can have some similar symptoms. They are usually not too serious, and can be caused by injury, disease, repetitive motion, overuse or an underlying condition such as wrist arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist fractures and sprains are usually brought about by sudden injury, whereas tendon irritation can arise from sporting injury, repetitive motion or overuse. The type of pain will vary with the condition – carpal tunnel syndrome has pins and needle symptoms, whereas wrist arthritis pain will feel more like a dull ache. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your wrist condition from your physical symptoms along with imaging where necessary.
The cost of carpal tunnel release surgery is dependent on a number of factors that will vary by patient. These include Medicare rebates, your level of private health insurance (if you have it) and the cost of your surgical team, which can differ between surgeons and hospitals.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the most common types of hand surgeries performed. It helps relieve the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome by relieving pressure on the main nerve that passes through the wrist. The median nerve shares the carpal tunnel with many other tendons, and is responsible for providing sensation to the thumb, index and middle finger. If any part of the tunnel gets irritated or inflamed, the gap narrows, squeezes the nerve and prevents it from working properly. This pressure also causes a range of uncomfortable symptoms that include pins and needles, a burning sensation, general pain, numbness and weakness when gripping objects.

The surgery works by making a small cut through the roof of the tunnel which immediately creates more room for the nerve. When the ligaments heal, they grow together more loosely which prevents further problems. Carpal tunnel release surgery can be performed as open surgery, or as a minimally invasive procedure.
If you have been suffering from these common symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting some specialist help:
  • Pins and needles, or tingling sensations
  • Pain or numbness in the affected hand
  • A burning sensation
  • Weak grip
  • Wasted muscles at the base of the thumb
Your doctor may perform some tests to see how well your nerve is working, before diagnosing your condition and recommending a treatment pathway. In severe cases, or where conservative treatment and therapy is ineffective, your doctor may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery as the most appropriate step to restoring hand function. Carpal tunnel is a progressive condition and is unlikely to improve or resolve on its own.
Any surgical procedure carries an element of complication, and in a very small number of cases carpal tunnel syndrome may reappear or not be fully cured. Your surgeon and orthopaedic care team will conduct a full assessment to determine your individual level of risk, and any appropriate action that may be required will be discussed with you at your consultation. 
Carpal tunnel release surgery can be performed as open surgery, or endoscopically using a camera and tiny tools. Your doctor will talk to you about the best approach for your individual condition. Preparing for your discharge before you have surgery will help your recovery process. As your hand will need to rest in a splint for some weeks after surgery, it’s a good idea to organise some help with daily tasks and meal preparation for when you return home from hospital. Keep everything you will need within easy reach, and talk to your doctor about how the surgery will restrict your movements. 
You will be encouraged to keep your hand elevated after the operation to reduce the pain and swelling, and your wrist will be immobilised in a brace for a few weeks after surgery. Some discomfort after the procedure is completely normal, and this can take a few weeks to settle down. Once the symptoms have subsided, physiotherapy exercises will help restore strength and functionality to your wrist. Gripping strength should return within 2-3 months, although in severe cases there is a possibility it may not return to full strength. The numbness and tingling should resolve within 2-3 months, but in severe cases this may take longer. Talk to your doctor about returning to work and resuming daily activities.

Still have questions? Let us help you.