What are the Benefits of Reconstructive Wrist Surgery
Our hands and wrists are indispensable tools in our daily lives. We rely heavily on the dexterity and strength of our wrist joints. However, injuries, degenerative conditions, and congenital anomalies can affect this important structure and make it difficult to perform daily tasks. Reconstructive wrist surgery aims to restore functionality and alleviate the discomfort present in certain wrist conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.
Dr. Knight, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at the Hand and Wrist Institute, has over 25 years of experience in this field. He has performed more than 20,000 complex procedures of the hand and wrist. In this guide, we explore what reconstructive wrist surgery is and why it’s performed. We also take a closer look at what to expect before and after surgery, along with the benefits and potential risks.
What Is Reconstructive Wrist Surgery?
Wrist reconstruction surgery is a procedure performed to correct an injury or address a medical condition. It aims to restore function and improve the appearance of the wrist. The procedure involves various surgical techniques to reconstruct damaged ligaments, tendons, bones, and cartilage. This type of surgery might be performed in cases of severe wrist fractures, ligament tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or congenital deformities affecting the wrist joint.
Surgeons use different approaches, such as bone grafts, tendon transfers, ligament repairs, joint fusions, and joint replacements. Reconstructive wrist surgery aims to alleviate pain, restore strength and movement, and prevent long-term complications while allowing patients to regain optimal use of their wrists. Wrist arthroplasty, in particular, is a procedure that involves joint replacement or joint reconstruction using a prosthetic joint. It’s not commonly performed and is usually only recommended after all other treatment options have been exhausted.
What Does Reconstructive Wrist Surgery Treat?
Wrist reconstruction surgery can be used to treat various conditions, such as:
- Rheumatoid wrist deformities.
- Tendon injuries.
- Ligament tears.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
What To Expect From the Surgery
Reconstructive wrist surgery can involve joint fusions and joint replacements to restore function to the wrist and improve cosmetic appearance. Before the surgery, you’ll meet with Dr. Knight and our team to discuss the procedure, the risks and benefits, and what to expect during your recovery. Depending on the surgery, you may need to stop certain medications, fast before surgery, or undergo tests, such as X-rays and MRI scans. We will provide you with everything you need to know beforehand so you feel fully prepared.
Before we begin, we will give you either general anesthesia — where you’re asleep for the procedure — or regional anesthesia, which involves numbing the wrist and arm. The type of anesthesia depends on the type and extent of the surgery. During the procedure, we’ll perform the necessary repairs or reconstructions. This might involve bone grafts, tendon repairs, ligament reconstruction, joint fusion, or joint replacement.
What To Expect After Surgery
After wrist surgery, you’ll spend some time in a recovery area, where you’ll be monitored as you wake up from anesthesia. You may need to wear a splint, brace, or cast on your wrist for several weeks to protect the surgical site while it heals. Wrist arthroplasty can improve the wrist’s motion to about 50% of normal capacity. Therefore, you may also need physical therapy to retrain your muscles. Post-surgery rehabilitation and therapy are key to recovering mobility and strength in the wrist joint.
You’ll return for regular follow-ups with Dr. Knight and our team to monitor the healing process. Depending on the surgery and your recovery, you’ll gradually return to your normal activities, possibly with restrictions or modifications. Here’s the general recovery timeline you can expect:
- Initial healing: The first few weeks involve rest, avoiding strain on the wrist, and focusing on wound healing.
- Rehabilitation: Physical therapy and exercises start early to prevent stiffness and help you regain your strength.
- Months to recovery: Complete recovery can take several months, with improvements seen gradually over time.
Benefits of Reconstructive Wrist Surgery
Reconstructive wrist surgery offers several potential benefits for patients with wrist injuries, chronic conditions, or congenital abnormalities. Some of the key benefits include:
- Pain relief: Surgery targets and resolves the underlying issues causing wrist pain. It relieves persistent discomfort or acute pain caused by conditions such as arthritis, fractures, and ligament injuries.
- Improved functionality: Restoring the wrist joint’s stability, alignment, and strength can significantly enhance its functionality, extending your range of motion, giving you better grip strength, and improving your ability to perform daily tasks comfortably.
- Joint preservation: Surgery can strengthen the wrist joint by repairing damaged ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. This helps prevent further degeneration and the need for more extensive interventions, such as joint replacement.
- Enhanced quality of life: Regaining the function of your wrist and reducing pain can improve your quality of life. This allows you to return to activities you enjoy.
- Preventing complications: Addressing severe injuries or conditions early with surgery can help prevent potential complications, such as chronic pain, joint deformities, and loss of function.
- Long-term benefits: While recovery and rehabilitation may take time, a successful surgery offers many long-term benefits. It can improve wrist function and reduce the risk of future issues.
The specific benefits depend on the type of surgery and underlying conditions. Dr. Knight and our team will discuss expectations and potential outcomes beforehand and help set realistic goals. Understanding the potential pros and cons of reconstructive wrist surgery can help you make an informed decision.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, there are potential risks. They include infection, nerve damage, stiffness, and incomplete recovery. Adhering to our pre- and post-operative instructions and attending follow-up appointments are crucial for a successful recovery.
Contact The Hand and Wrist Institute if You Need Medical Attention for Your Hands and Wrists
When considering reconstructive wrist surgery, we highly recommend consulting a qualified professional, such as an orthopedic surgeon. Our skilled surgeons have years of expertise in treating wrist conditions, and our personalized approach ensures that you’ll receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. We’ll help improve the functionality of your wrist, reduce pain, and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment .