Pros and cons of artificial wrist joints

Is it possible to simulate a close-to-normal mobility of a wrist joint through an artificial replacement?

No, such expectation is totally unrealistic; however, it is possible to achieve a range of motion of thirty to fifty degrees, both for stretching and flexing motions with the help of an artificial wrist joint. This allows for the majority of day-to-day tasks to get accomplished.

Wrist joint prosthesis: Remaining flexion.
Bending mobility after receiving an artificial wrist joint.

The image shows the realistic bending motion range one may expect from an artificial wrist joint.

So why even get an artificial wrist joint under these circumstances?The advantage of a successful artificial wrist joint procedure is the acquisition of strength in the hand. Young people in particular who don´t have any other joint issues may need that strength in their hands thus are better off with an wrist joint arthrodesis rather than dealing with a wrist joint orthosis.

Arthrodesis of the right wrist joint in slightly extended position.
Arthrodesis of the right wrist joint with satisfying functionality.

In comparison:

The image shows the range of motion of the wrist in extended position. The right wrist joint had an arthrodesis procedure. This joint will not allow for any extending motion (and of course the same is true for flexing motions).

Are there any other differences?
Yes, each artificial joint – regardless whether we are looking at wrists, shoulders, hips or knees – only has a limited lifespan. In many cases joints need to be replaced after ten to fifteen years, because they become loose or simply because the utilized materials break by fatigue. This situation of course would not apply to an arthrodesis. This is a solution which will hold up for a lifetime (but which in turn cannot be reversed!)


Wrist joint prosthesis:    1    2    3    4    5    6