Wrist Osteoarthritis Symptoms and How To Test for Wrist Osteoarthritis
If you haven’t already please read What is Osteoarthritis as this explains what happens to a joint when it has degeneration. This page explains specific wrist osteoarthritis symptoms and at the end suggests a test you can try.
Advice given here is not meant replace a visit to a health care professional and it is important you do pop along and get properly diagnosed in case you have a different type of arthritis.
People commonly present to hand surgeons with wrist osteoarthritis symptoms but it is a problematic condition for them to treat.
First a quick anatomy lesson.
The wrist is made up of the two bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) and 7 carpal bones which are in two rows. Each bone articulates with the adjacent one forming a joint and it is these numerous small joints which allow such a huge range of different and complex movements at the wrist.
Osteoarthritis is a wearing of the articular cartilage. This is the cushioning material that covers the end of the bones and it acts as a shock absorber and prevents friction on the bone. It has no nerves in it but bone does, so as the cartilage wears the joint becomes painful. In severe cases, bone rubs on bone. This is the time to get a joint replacement (if possible) and no amount of other therapies will help much.
Wrist Osteoarthritis Symptoms
It is important to get your pain properly diagnosed but these are the common signs and symptoms of wrist OA.
Most commonly you may get local pain felt at the sides or across the front and/or back of your wrist. The pain is felt when you are exercising/active and decreases/stops when you rest. The pain may spread up the forearm to the elbow or down into the hand, fingers and thumb, usually as a deep ache.
An early symptom of wrist osteoarthritis is that you tend to suffer stiffness in the morning or after inactivity but this will go when you start moving around. How long this lasts is a good indicator how bad your OA is.
Your wrist may have what is called ‘crepitus’ which means it grates and cracks when you move it, especially if you rotate your hand around.
Over time your wrist movement will decrease. Try this test: sit with just your elbows on a table and so your forearms are vertical and your fingers are pointing at the ceiling. Try to bend and flex your wrist backwards and forwards. Your wrist should flex forwards so they are nearly horizontal (parallel with the table top) and go nearly as far backwards. Both your wrists should move the same amount. If your wrists don’t or if your bad wrist moves less than your good wrist then you have restricted movement which is a common sign of wrist osteoarthritis.
If you have any of these wrist osteoarthritis symptoms it is a good idea to get properly checked out by a healthcare professional and find out whether you do have osteoarthritis. Then sign up for my free course, Pain Management for Osteoarthritis, to find out what you can do about it.