Wrist arthritis is a progressive condition that affects how well the joint works causing inflammation, pain and stiff movement.

Wrist Arthritis

Orthopaedics Infoline

02 8382 0515

Email Us


What is wrist arthritis?

Wrist arthritis is often the underlying cause of persistent wrist pain, and it can develop in different parts of the wrist. In a healthy wrist, the bones are protected by a coat of cartilage which helps them easily glide over each other as they move. Wrist arthritis is a condition that gradually destroys the cartilage that makes this happen. It can affect how well the wrist functions, causing painful symptoms such as stiff movement, swelling, limited range of movement, difficulty gripping and a cracking or grinding noise when moving. The most common types of wrist arthritis are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease where your body attacks healthy tissue like cartilage.
  • Osteoarthritis – a wear and tear disease where the cartilage gets worn away.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis – commonly developed after an injury like a wrist fracture.

How is it treated?

Wrist arthritis is usually confirmed by your doctor with a physical examination and an X-Ray. There is no cure, but in the first instance it is treated conservatively with rest and pain relief medication to manage the symptoms. Your doctor may suggest stopping any activities that aggravate the symptoms and immobilise the wrist with a splint to help support the joint. A steroid injection can temporarily control the swelling. Specific wrist exercises are also recommended to maintain the range of motion and slow the onset of the disease. In severe cases where these treatments are no longer effective, your doctor may suggest surgery to restore functionality such as wrist fusion, wrist reconstruction or total wrist replacement surgery.

How long does it last?

Wrist arthritis is a chronic disease that will get progressively worse over time. While it cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed using conservative treatments that bring significant pain relief. In severe cases where surgery is required, recovery times will vary and depend on the extent and type of procedure.

Find a hospital with orthopaedic services

Our Hospitals