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Wrist Surgery

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What is Wrist Surgery?

Wrist surgery is a arthroscopic surgical technique which is much less invasive than an open surgery which requires long incisions and cuts into the muscles and tissue, creating a more prolonged healing period. Arthroscopic surgeries are less disruptive to the soft tissue, meaning patients experience less post-operative pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthroscopy is considered an attractive option because it is highly effective in making accurate diagnoses, and it is less invasive. With arthroscopy, a surgeon can visualize the inside of the affected joint by the use of a tiny fiber optic camera called an endoscope, which is inserted through small incisions, called portals. The most common joints to undergo arthroscopic surgery are the knee, shoulder and wrist. The wrist is a very complex joint with eight small bones and connecting ligaments which hold these bones together. Wrist arthroscopy allows orthopedic surgeons to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions affecting the joint. Arthroscopic surgery can assess the integrity of your triangular fibrocartilage (TFCC), a structure which supports the wrist. Once the damage has been assessed by viewing the inner structures on a monitor, the orthopedist will either remove or repair the damaged tissue using small surgical instruments. Depending on the injury, the procedure can last up to an hour, but it could be longer if wrist arthroscopy is combined with other procedures. After the damage has been repaired, doctors will stitch the incisions closed and bandage the area. A splint will go over the bandaged area to limit movement of the wrist, but still allow mobility of the fingers. Your doctor will advise you to keep the upper extremity elevated to prevent excessive swelling.

Who Should Get Wrist Surgery?

If you experience pain, clicking sounds and swelling of the wrist, you may be a good candidate for wrist arthroscopy. Arthroscopic surgery is most commonly used for:

  • Chronic wrist pain
  • Removal of inflamed tissue
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage
  • Restoration of cartilage
  • Treatment for fractures
  • Impingement
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Ligament/TFCC tears
  • Carpal Tunnel release


First, you will be sedated and given a regional anesthesia to numb the upper extremity. Three small incisions are made to the wrist to introduce small surgical instruments under the skin, including a small camera and a lighting system. The camera provides 3D images of the joint to a monitor to help the surgeon view the anatomical structures and make decisions about how to address the problem being addressed. Other instruments your surgeon may use during an arthroscopic surgery include probes, forceps, knives and shavers.

Risks, Complications and Limitations

Even though arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery, it is important to understand all of the risks and to follow the doctor’s instructions. Some potential risks include:

  • Infection, bleeding or swelling
  • Unattractive scarring
  • Nerve or tendon damage (less than 1 percent of patients experience this)
  • Stiffness, a common side effect which can be alleviated through post-op rehabilitation.

Arthroscopy is minimally invasive and effective for surgery of the wrist. Come find out with hundreds of patients are choosing this option of treatment, and finally rid yourself of pain from your wrist condition. For more information about wrist arthroscopy, as well as other orthopedic treatment methods available in Los Angeles, please call our West Medical offices at (855) 690-0565.

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