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"What treatment could I expect for my wrist problems?"


I recently got an x-ray that shows I probably broke my wrist several times as a child. Now, as a young adult, it is frequently sore and stiff, and I'm hoping to get some sort of treatment to help relieve this and prevent arthritis later on. Would I be more likely to be a candidate for surgery or for physical therapy? Which one would have better long term results?


I am sorry to hear that you are having pain and stiffness in your wrist. Unfortunately, this can be a complication of breaking bones, as the joint where the broken bone is located will occasionally develop premature arthritis symptoms. The mainstay of treatment of course will be conservative - resting the joint when it aches, avoiding physical activities which put too much stress on it, ice and antiinflammatory medications as needed.

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Physical therapy would be an excellent additional option, if your insurance will cover it. Generally, I would advise against jumping into surgery too early, as results from arthroscopy and similar surgeries are using modest and might not be worth the risk of infection, etc. Generally, it is better to reserve surgeries for more advanced cases, unless there is an extenuating circumstance (for example, elite athletes might go for surgery earlier because they are hoping to improve their performance in the short term). I would suggest talking to your primary care doctor about this problem. In addition to a physical examination to make sure nothing more serious is going on, they will also be able to make a referral to physical therapy and also to help with managing the problem over the coming years.

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