Arthritis in the Wrist

Arthritis in the wrist is a common condition that affects the joints in the hand and can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced function. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. This can be caused by aging, joint instability, or an injury. Common symptoms include swelling, difficulty moving the wrist, and a grating sensation. If left untreated, arthritis in the wrist can result in chronic pain, loss of grip strength, and difficulty performing everyday tasks. The Institute’s Center for Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery offers focused expertise for wrist arthritis, including surgical and non-surgical treatments that can help you get back to doing what you love without chronic pain or stiffness.  

Treatments for Wrist Arthritis

When treating arthritis in the hands and upper extremities, we address the source of pain, not just the symptoms, to provide comprehensive relief. Our multifaceted approach combines non-surgical and surgical interventions tailored to each patient's specific needs. Non-surgical treatments aim to enhance joint function, reduce inflammation, and promote natural healing processes while surgical procedures directly address the root causes of pain, allowing for long-term relief and improved joint mobility. 

Non-Surgical Treatments


Rest and Immobilization

Resting the affected wrist and using a splint can help reduce inflammation and provide support for healing. Giving the joint a break allows it to recover and minimizes stress on the affected area, promoting natural healing processes.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves targeted exercises to improve strength and flexibility in the affected wrist. This can enhance overall joint function, reduce pain, and prevent further deterioration of the joint over time.


Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort and manage inflammation. These medications help control symptoms, allowing individuals to maintain a better quality of life while undergoing other non-surgical treatments.

Corticosteroid Injections

Injecting corticosteroids into the joint can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation. This minimally invasive procedure directly addresses pain and swelling, offering a targeted approach to managing symptoms associated with arthritis in the wrist.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on customized strategies and adaptive tools to make daily activities easier for individuals with arthritis in the wrist. This collaborative approach helps patients adapt and continue with their daily routines, promoting independence and improving overall hand function.

Surgical Treatments


Joint Denervation Surgery

Joint denervation involves disrupting pain signals from the affected joint, providing relief from chronic wrist pain. This surgical procedure selectively interrupts the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals, offering a long-term solution for individuals with persistent pain.


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure where a tiny camera is inserted into the wrist to visualize and treat joint issues. This allows for precise examination and treatment of the affected joint, minimizing tissue damage and promoting a quicker recovery compared to traditional open surgery.

Joint Fusion

Joint fusion involves permanently joining bones to reduce pain and improve stability in the wrist. This surgical procedure aims to eliminate motion in the affected joint, providing relief from pain by creating a stable and rigid structure.

Joint Replacement

In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be considered, replacing the damaged joint with an artificial implant. This procedure aims to restore function and alleviate pain by replacing worn-out joint surfaces with a prosthetic device, improving overall joint mobility and reducing discomfort.


Synovectomy involves removing the inflamed synovial lining of the joint to reduce pain and swelling. By eliminating the diseased tissue, this surgical procedure aims to improve joint function and alleviate symptoms associated with inflammation in the wrist.


Why Patients Trust the Center for Hand & Upper Extremity

Our state-of-the-art care centers, paired with our team of fellowship-trained, board-certified doctors, deliver comprehensive care for the treatment of arthritis in the shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. We offer the most advanced procedures, addressing arthritis at the source to alleviate chronic pain, improve mobility, and enhance your quality of life. 

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When to Seek Medical Attention

If you're experiencing persistent symptoms of DIP/PIP finger arthritis, such as ongoing pain, stiffness, or reduced finger mobility that hinders your daily activities, it's time to seek professional medical attention. Early diagnosis and intervention can help manage the condition effectively and prevent further joint damage, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your hand health.


Are there specific activities that can worsen arthritis symptoms in the hands?
Certain activities that involve repetitive or forceful hand movements may exacerbate arthritis symptoms. It's advisable to identify and modify such activities to manage symptoms better.
Can diet or supplements help manage arthritis in the hands?
A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may contribute to overall joint health. Some patients find omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, helpful. However, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes.
Is there a cure for arthritis in the hands?
Currently, there is no cure for arthritis, but various treatments aim to manage symptoms and improve joint function. Early intervention and a combination of non-surgical and surgical options can significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with arthritis in the hands.
Can weather changes affect arthritis symptoms in the hands?

Some people with arthritis report increased pain or stiffness during changes in weather, particularly in cold and damp conditions. While the scientific evidence is inconclusive, staying warm and maintaining joint flexibility through exercises can help manage symptoms.

How long is the recovery period after joint denervation surgery?
Recovery periods can vary, but many patients experience significant improvement within a few weeks after joint denervation surgery. Full recovery may take several months, and adherence to postoperative care and rehabilitation is crucial.
Can arthritis in the hands affect young adults, or is it primarily an older person's condition?
While arthritis is more common in older adults, it can affect people of all ages, including young adults and even children. Juvenile arthritis is a specific form that can occur in individuals under the age of 16.
Is it safe to continue participating in sports or physical activities with arthritis in the hands?
Staying physically active is generally encouraged, but individuals with arthritis should choose activities that are joint-friendly. Low-impact exercises and activities that don't strain the hands excessively, such as swimming or walking, are often recommended. Consultation with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance based on individual circumstances.
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