Advice about wrist fusion


I wondered if I might get some advice and comments about wrist fusion. My right wrist most probably needs to be fused after severe RA deterioration and tendon rupture this week. I'm scared of this op but also desperate for the pain to stop.

I'd love to hear from people who've had it done. Will I be able to exercise/crochet/pick up my kids/blow dry my hair???!!! I know some of these things are small things, but they're part of my life. I don't seem to be able to get much info anywhere or speak to anyone who's had this done. I'm 41, a mum of 3 and a full-time classical singer. My RA is well controlled by the miracle of Enbrel apart from my damn wrists.

Thanks in advance.

13 Replies

  • Hi I had both my wrists fused and they couldn't be better. It is a weird sensation at first because your brain tells you that your wrist will flex but in reality it can't!

    Mine were done some 30 years ago so now I don't even think about the fact that I can't bend then. The body is wonderful at making adjustments and that is what I have experienced. If it takes the pain away, go for it! I am glad that I had mine done as I couldn't even lift a telephone without it being unbearable.

  • Thanks so much for this positive reply. This disease can feel so lonely sometimes. I don't know anyone else with it of my age and it's lovely to have this forum to feel as if I'm not alone at all.

    So glad you've have a good outcome and hope you're still well today.

  • Hi Julie, thank you for your reply. Yes, I am relatively well as I have for the last 10 years been receiving Anti TNF biological infusions every 6 weeks which are fantastic. I have also in the last couple of years had a complete elbow replacement which is now brilliant! I hope you get the treatment I have had from the NHS as I cannot complain at all. I just hope the next government doesn't destroy the NHS as is currently being reported about the coalition.

  • I couldn't agree more. I have nothing but praise for the NHS. I've had amazing care.

  • Hi. I saw my orthopaedic surgeon about wrist fusion but he suggested a joint replacement. I had it done in October and it's grest. Better movement and very little discomfort now. I'm back to knitting and can do things with that hand I couldn't before, so I'd say worth it.

  • Thanks so much...I think my wrist is in too much of a bad state to do a replacement. just waiting (waiting waiting waiting) to see a hand surgeon.

    I'm feeling so much more positive about a be honest, I'm so fed up with the constant pain, I'd consider anything.

    I hope you're still well.

  • I had the ends of the ulna bones cut off and several tendon transfers about 3 years ago now. Five fingers were literally just hanging there, getting in the way of doing everything. I couldnt turn my wrist so I couldnt "receive" anything (like coin change).

    It was a long process but I got there in the end and although my wrists still arn't strong I can at least hold things and wash my face.

  • Thanks so much. Blimey, sounds a s though you've had a hard time.

    I hope you're coping and managing to enjoy life with less pain.

    It feels comforting to know other people understand what it's like to be in constant pain.


  • Hi....I've just had my ulnar bone shaved down and several tendon transfers. The op went well and I'm recovering. How long did it take you to start to use your hand again? I'm 2 weeks in and quite surprised how painful it is, even though I'm used to a lot of pain. Feeling very frustrated but trying to keep positive....I'm missing writing!

    Best wishes

  • My op was done on the back of my wrist and the insision is from the back of the hand to about 3 inches above my wrist bones. Although I had physio just a few days after the op, it had to be done in the splint as I wasnt allowed to bend my wrist for 6 weeks. The exercises were just (Ha! JUST) to lift my fingers up off the cast (splint). After 6 weeks I started to bend the fingers in a fist action and some bending at the wrist. Probably 12 weeks I had to have help and from there I improoved more and more. Still not very strong but miles better than before.

    I wish you all the best wishes in your recovery. x

  • Hi, i am 45 and had my first wrist fused when I was 26. Its solid and pain free, but as you mention it does have some effect. The one I would mention is personal cleaning after toilet use. Its nearly impossible!

  • Hi Timmy, I experienced the same problem with both wrists fused, but one hand is set at an angle pointing into the inside of the wrist and the other is set at an angle pointing away from the wrist. This is done to cope with different actions like you describe and picking items up from the floor etc. I soon found out how to adapt to different situations and after 30 plus years, I can cope with most things relatively painless.

  • Yes, I had heard from other patients who had the operation done recently that this angling of the fusion is done today. But it was not considered when I had it done at about twenty years ago. Just wanted to mentioned it so that anyone thinking of getting the operation should ask their surgeon how the fusion will be set. Regards

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