People hampered by painful wrists can take heart in a new form of relief. Trinity Health’s hand and wrist surgeons have introduced wrist replacement surgery as one more option to relieve pain from arthritis or other degenerative conditions.
Hand and wrist surgeon Daniel Williams, MD, performed the area’s first total wrist replacement on December 21, 2020. He and his colleague, Blendi Cumani, MD, also offer partial wrist replacement, finger and thumb replacement, and a variety of hand/wrist repair procedures and non-surgical therapies.
“It’s important to let people know that we perform wrist replacement here,” Dr. Williams said. “It’s not an option for everyone, but it is one of several alternatives for people to consider. They don’t have to put up with the pain.”
Dr. Williams’ patient was rural Granville resident Gloria Everson, who had suffered from painful arthritis and carpal tunnel in both wrists – especially her right one. “I couldn’t do very many activities of any kind; it was bone on bone,” she said.
The goal of any wrist replacement procedure is to relieve pain and provide a functional range of motion. Gloria’s surgery has been a success in that regard. “It healed up nicely,” she said. “The pain was gone right away – just a little surgical pain. I did eight weeks of therapy, which went well; and I’ve done exercises at home.”
Gloria received the Integra Freedom Wrist system, an industry standard which is indicated for pain resulting from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis. “It is a motion-preserving approach that provides excellent pain relief as well as sufficient motion; and strength is retained for activities of daily living,” Dr. Williams noted.
The wrist is highly complex, made up of more than a dozen individual joints formed by eight small bones. The implant that Gloria received is an assembly consisting of a titanium carpal plate, which is fixed into the carpal bones of the hand with a cemented central peg and two titanium screws. Plus, there is a convex Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) bearing, which is locked onto the carpal plate to articulate with the radial component. The wrist system also includes a mobile bearing that is attached to the carpal component to improve motion.
“Gloria was a good candidate for a total wrist replacement,” Dr. Williams explained. “The stress that she places on her wrist is from normal activities of daily living – in other words low demand. She’s not doing heavy lifting or using her hand in a way that puts a lot of stress on her wrist. In our region, we have a lot of people who work in the agriculture or energy fields, which is high demand. They often aren’t good candidates for total wrist replacement but might be better suited for a partial wrist or fusion procedure.”
According to Dr. Williams, people with hand and wrist pain often don’t realize the importance of early intervention. “Once you lose motion, it’s hard to get it back,” he said. Even an ultimate intervention like joint replacement has better success if done earlier rather than later. “You might think ‘I can live with (the pain),’ but if you find that you’re losing function – you’ve had to stop gardening or woodworking – then you need to investigate your options.”
As for Gloria, she has no regrets. In fact, she is strongly considering having replacement surgery on her left wrist.
“I would recommend Dr. Williams to anyone,” she added. “He’s very good at what he does. He called to check on me. I would give him five stars.”
Trinity’s Hand & Wrist Surgery, which is led by Daniel Williams, MD, and Blendi Cumani, MD, is located at Health Center – Medical Arts, 400 Burdick Expy E, Minot. For appointments or consultations, please call 701-857-7301.