Hand Surgery

Hand and Wrist Arthritis

There are two main types of arthritis in the hand and wrist, both of which cause pain, deformity and stiffness.  While it is possible to have both, they are two different and distinct disease processes, which affect the joints in different ways. 

Inflammatory arthritis

This includes a group of diagnoses, the most common of which is Rheumatoid arthritis. These are ‘systemic’ diseases – that is they affect the whole body, and the joint involvement may be only part of the picture. It is important that patients with a diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis are seen by a Rheumatologist to ensure that they are on the best medical (tablet or injection) treatment before considering surgery. Surgery may be necessary to alleviate inflammation not controlled by medical treatment, to realign, stabilize or replace unstable or painful joints. There are many different procedures for the hand and wrist affected by inflammatory arthritis and these can be combined to treat different parts of the hand/wrist in one operation.


Osteoarthritis is caused by the ‘wear and tear’ of the joint. It may simply be as a result of use of the hand, or it may be due to a previous injury to a particular joint. In the hand it is more common in women and the tendency of osteoarthritis may run in the family. Osteoarthritis in the hand commonly occurs at the base of the thumb and in the small joints of the fingers. Wrist osteoarthritis is most commonly the result of a previous injury.

Procedures for osteoarthritis include;

  • Trapeziectomy and suspensionsionplasty (LRTI)
  • Joint replacement; Some joints in the hand and wrist can be replaced with artificial joints to relieve pain and maintain movement.
  • Joint Fusion; The permanently stiffening of selected joints in the hand and wrist can provide excellent pain relief and stability.

All hands need to be assessed on an individual basis and a specific treatment plan devised. Dr Potter will discuss with you your particular symptoms and limitations and plan treatment based on your individual needs.