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Is Arthritis the Cause of Your Wrist Pain?


Wrist pain from arthritis

Many people experience wrist pain at some point in their lives. But if you're experiencing pain and stiffness that is making the simplest daily activities difficult, your wrist pain could be arthritis. Wrist arthritis can make it hard to grip objects, type on a keyboard, or even turn a doorknob.


What Is Wrist Arthritis?

Three types of arthritis

There are three types of arthritis that most commonly affect the wrist, including:

  1. Osteoarthritis – The most common type of wrist arthritis that often develops due to normal wear-and-tear as we age. The cartilage that cushions the joints deteriorates over time, causing bone-on-bone rubbing and, ultimately, pain and stiffness in the joint.

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis – An inflammatory type of arthritis that can damage the bones and tissues around the joints. This chronic autoimmune disease is often symmetrical, affecting the same joints on both sides of your body.

  3. Post-traumatic arthritis – This develops after an injury, like a wrist fracture. It can come on shortly after the injury or may take several years.

Symptoms of Wrist Arthritis

Symptoms of wrist arthritis

Dr. Joseph, the most trusted hand specialist in Eagle and Summit County, frequently sees the following symptoms in his patients with wrist arthritis:

  • Pain - Wrist arthritis can cause pain that ranges from mild to severe. The pain may be constant, or it may come and go.

  • Swelling - Joints affected by arthritis often swell, causing the wrist to feel warm to the touch.

  • Stiffness - Wrist stiffness is a common symptom, especially in the morning.

  • Weakness - Arthritis can weaken the muscles around the joints, making it difficult to grip objects or perform other tasks.

Diagnosing and Treating Wrist Arthritis

Treating wrist arthritis

Dr. Joseph and his team will discuss your medical history and symptoms, followed by a physical exam where he'll check for painful areas, swelling, range of motion issues, and joint instability. He may also order an X-ray to view the severity and exact location of your arthritis.


Once a formal diagnosis has been made, Dr. Joseph and his team will work with you to design the best treatment plan for your lifestyle. You can't cure arthritis, but several nonsurgical treatments can reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms, including:

  • Alternating ice and heat

  • Limiting or modifying activities that are making the pain worse

  • Wearing a splint or brace

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Exercise to strengthen the muscles around the wrist joint

  • Steroid injections

Most people find relief from conservative treatment methods; however, Dr. Joseph may recommend surgery if:

  • Nonsurgical treatments are no longer effective

  • Your pain is severe

  • It's become difficult to perform daily activities

There are four different surgical choices that Dr. Joseph may consider depending on the type and location of your arthritis – plus factors such as your age, overall health, and activity level.

  • Proximal row carpectomy - A row of three carpal bones is removed to give the bones more room to move without rubbing each other.

  • Denervation surgery - The nerves in the painful wrist joint are removed.

  • Fusion surgery - Two or more bones are fused into one to prevent rubbing.

Surgery is never the first choice for treating wrist arthritis. Still, it can be one of the most successful ways of providing relief when other treatment options fail to do so. Most patients who undergo surgery for wrist arthritis experience significant improvements in wrist pain and function.


Wrist Pain? Contact Colorado's Most Trusted Wrist Doctor Today!


Don't let wrist pain keep you from your favorite activities. Dr. Joseph and his team are known for their skill, compassion, and expertise in treating wrist conditions and injuries.


Same-day appointments are often available at three convenient locations: Edwards, Vail, and Frisco.


Call (970) 476-7220 today or submit an online appointment request form.




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