Wrist Arthritis

Wrist arthritis refers to the inflammation and degeneration of the joints in the wrist, which can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty with movement. Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the joints, which can lead to cartilage and bone damage over time. In the case of wrist arthritis, the small joints in the wrist can be affected, making it difficult to perform everyday activities that require the use of the hands and wrists. There are several different types of wrist arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, each with their own unique symptoms and causes.

Causes of Wrist Arthritis

The exact causes of wrist arthritis can vary depending on the type of arthritis present. Here are some common causes associated with the three main types of wrist arthritis:

Osteoarthritis: This type of arthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints over time, and is most commonly seen in older adults. Factors that can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in the wrist include previous wrist injuries, overuse of the wrist, and genetics.

Rheumatoid arthritis: This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation and damage. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the wrists.

Psoriatic arthritis: This type of arthritis is associated with the skin condition psoriasis, and can affect the joints in the wrists and other parts of the body. The exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder.

Other less common causes of wrist arthritis can include infection, gout, and other inflammatory conditions. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing symptoms of wrist arthritis, as early diagnosis and treatment can help to manage symptoms and prevent further joint damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Wrist Arthritis

The signs and symptoms of wrist arthritis can vary depending on the type of arthritis present, but some common symptoms include:

  • Pain: The most common symptom of wrist arthritis is pain in the wrist joint, which can be mild to severe and may be present at rest or during movement.
  • Stiffness: The joint may feel stiff and difficult to move, particularly in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity.
  • Swelling: Inflammation in the joint can cause swelling and tenderness around the wrist.
  • Reduced range of motion: As arthritis progresses, it can lead to a decrease in range of motion in the wrist joint, making it difficult to perform everyday activities.
  • Weakness: The muscles around the wrist joint may become weakened over time, making it difficult to grip or hold onto objects.
  • Crunching or grinding sensation: Some people with wrist arthritis may experience a crunching or grinding sensation when moving the joint, which is caused by bone-on-bone contact due to joint damage.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treatment for Wrist Arthritis

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for wrist arthritis and can help to manage symptoms and improve overall function. The specific type of physiotherapy treatment recommended will depend on the type and severity of arthritis present, as well as the individual’s overall health and lifestyle. Some common physiotherapy treatments for wrist arthritis include:

Exercise therapy: Exercises that focus on improving wrist range of motion, strength, and flexibility can help to improve overall function and reduce pain.

Manual therapy: Techniques such as joint mobilization or soft tissue massage may be used to help reduce pain and improve joint function.

Splinting or bracing: A wrist splint or brace can help to support the joint and reduce pain during activities.

Modalities: Modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be used to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Education and self-management: Education on proper joint protection techniques, activity modification, and self-management strategies can help to improve overall function and reduce pain.

It is important to work with a qualified physiotherapist to develop an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. With proper management and treatment, it is often possible to manage symptoms and maintain a good quality of life with wrist arthritis.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about wrist arthritis please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Lozano-Lozano, M., Martín-Muñoz, M. F., Martínez-Gómez, D., Fernández-Lao, C., & Arroyo-Morales, M. (2020). Efficacy of physiotherapy interventions in patients with wrist osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Musculoskeletal Care

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