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?

Two people holding each other's hands

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:

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:

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:

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 .


Image by Markus Spiske Licensed via Unsplash

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.