The wrist is made up of a number of small joints. When in a healthy state, the bones of the wrist glide smoothly over each other and are protected by a cartilage that coats the joints surface. Arthritis of the wrist damages the cartilage, and as the disease progresses, the patient experiences severe hand or wrist pain, accompanied by a restriction in movement. Though there’s no cure for arthritis, some treatments may provide relief from the issue. Proper treatment slows the progression of joint damage, and in many cases, the patient is even able to lead an active lifestyle. Continuing the discussion further, in this post, we look at the non-surgical and surgical treatment for wrist arthritis. Let’s begin.

Must Read: 4 Common Types of Arthritis that Affect the Hand and Wrist

Non-surgical Treatments

Doctors initially recommend non-surgical treatments to minimize the symptoms, which include:

Modification of Daily Activities

The patient might need to limit or stop the activities that aggravate the wrist pain, as this is the first step in relieving symptoms. The doctor may also recommend wearing a wrist splint to support the joint and ease the stress caused by frequent activities.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin reduce swelling and pain. The patient can also apply topical NSAIDs on the joint. Doctors might prescribe cortisone, a strong anti-inflammatory agent to be injected into the arthritic joint.

Exercise and Therapy

Specific exercises of the wrist improve the range of motion and function. The patient might discuss an exercise program with the doctor or therapist for improved motion of the wrist. Therapies such as using ‘contrast soaks’ of warm and cold water also reduce swelling.

Surgical Treatments

When non-surgical treatments do not provide relief from pain and there is no significant impact on the quality of life, the doctor might recommend surgery. The surgical procedure is performed to relieve pain and improve or preserve the function of the hand. Some of the common surgical procedures that doctors could recommend are:

Proximal Row Carpectomy

The surgeon removes three carpal bones from the row of bones close to the forearm. The procedure reduces pain and maintains some motion of the wrist.


The doctor might recommend fusion in cases where the motion is the source of the pain. The procedure is similar to ‘welding’ where the basic idea is to fuse the bones together to heal them into one, solid bone. Damaged cartilage is removed and plates, screws or pins are used to hold the joint in a fixed position. The bones grow together with time in a similar way the fractured ends of a bone heal.

Total Wrist Replacement

The surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone in the wrist and places plastic joint or new metal surfaces. The idea is to restore the function of the joint. Replacing the wrist joint provides relief from pain and improves the wrist movement.

Must Read: Wrist Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments

Last Few Words

Surgery is always a last resort but if a patient experiences a disabling pain even after undergoing all possible non-surgical treatment options, surgery may be the best option. Before recommending any surgical procedure, the doctors at The Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center determine the type of arthritis, the severity of the problem, and the functional requirements of the patient. If you wish to learn more about surgical and non-surgical treatment for wrist arthritis, book an appointment with one of our physicians today. You can reach us at 1-888-608-4762 or fill out our online booking form.