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Wrist arthroscopy

Our surgeons can diagnose and treat wrist problems with a wrist arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)

Clinician wrapping a sterile bandage around a patient's hand after a wrist arthroscopy procedure
An arthroscopy is a type of minimally invasive or 'keyhole' surgery, which is a procedure carried out through a small incision (cut), in this instance into your wrist joint. A special camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the joint and images are transmitted onto a screen. This allows your surgeon to look at your joint in detail and diagnose any problems. Sometimes in the same procedure, your surgeon may make two or three further incisions and repair any damage to your joint.

Arthroscopic surgery can be safer and have a faster recovery time than regular (open) surgery because no large incisions are made and there is less pain, swelling and damage to soft tissue.

Call or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private wrist arthroscopy with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group.

This page explains what wrist arthroscopy is, what the procedure involves and what to expect during your recovery.

The cost of a wrist arthroscopy will depend on various factors, including your reasons for having surgery and the extent of damage that needs to be repaired.

Your healthcare team will ensure you know the cost of your treatment at every stage of your journey with them, including information on how and when to pay it. If you would like to get a guide price ahead of time, based on your personal circumstances, give us a call and one of our friendly advisors will help you.

Fixed-price packages

If you are paying for your own treatment, our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Spread the cost of your payment

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

Private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, wrist surgery will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out more information on this.

If you have any questions about our fixed-price packages and flexible payment options, you can speak to a friendly member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009.

Wrist arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a range of conditions including:

Chronic wrist pain

If you have chronic wrist pain and scans such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs haven't found a cause, your consultant may recommend a wrist arthroscopy to look inside your wrist joint. Causes of chronic wrist pain like inflammation and cartilage damage can often be treated during the same procedure.

Ganglion cysts

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that grows on a stalk between two wrist bones. The cyst and stalk can be removed during a wrist arthroscopy.

Ligament tears

Ligaments are tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to bones and stabilise and support your joints. Wrist sprains can damage or tear the ligaments causing pain, stiffness, and clicking in the joint. Wrist arthroscopy is often used to repair ligament tears.

Wrist fractures

A wrist fracture (break in the bone) can often result in tiny bone fragments remaining in the wrist joint. A wrist arthroscopy can remove any bone fragments as well as moving the wrist bones into their correct position and fixing them with plates, wires, pins, or screws.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. The inflamed lining can be removed during wrist arthroscopy.

Infection

An infection in the wrist can be washed out during wrist arthroscopy.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that passes through your wrist is compressed causing pain and inflammation. Wrist arthroscopy can widen the tunnel through which the nerve passes, relieving pressure on the nerve.

At your first consultation, you will be seen by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, a doctor specialising in conditions affecting the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Your consultant will ask you about your symptoms and examine your wrist to check for any outward signs like bruising, swelling, tenderness or deformity. They will check the strength of your wrist and your range of motion (how well you can move your joint).

Your consultant may look at any previous scans like X-rays, CT scans or MRIs you have had, or they may organise more scans on the day of your consultation.

At the end of your appointment, your consultant will decide if a wrist arthroscopy is suitable for you based on your symptoms, physical examination and the results of your tests and scans.

They will explain what happens during a wrist arthroscopy, the risks, and benefits of having the procedure and what to expect during your recovery.

Why is this first consultation so important?

At Circle Health Group, your first appointment is very important as it's where we get to know you, discuss your expectations for treatment and encourage you to ask any questions you may have. It is very important that you are as well-informed and comfortable as possible before, during, and after your surgery, so please ask your consultant as many questions as you like during your consultation.

Your consultant will tell you everything you need to do to prepare for your surgery. If there's anything you're not sure about, or if you have any questions, speak to your consultant, or call the hospital for advice.

Being well-prepared for your surgery will help to ease any anxiety you may have, as well as help your surgery and recovery to go more smoothly.

After your wrist arthroscopy, your arm will be immobilised in a splint for a week or two and it may be hard to carry out household tasks like cooking and cleaning. If possible, ask someone to help you for at least a few days after your surgery.

Before your surgery, tell your consultant about any medical conditions or allergies you have and any medication, including over-the-counter medicines you are taking.

Your consultant may tell you to stop taking some medications like blood thinners before your operation. This is to reduce the risk of bleeding during and after your surgery.

You will not be able to eat or drink anything from midnight on the day of your operation.

What lifestyle changes can I make before surgery?

Being as healthy as possible before your surgery can reduce the risk of complications and speed up your recovery. Some lifestyle changes you can make before your surgery include:

  • If you smoke try to stop at least eight weeks before your operation
  • Avoid alcohol for at least a few days before and after your surgery. Alcohol makes your blood thinner and may increase the risk of bleeding
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Lose weight if necessary

Wrist arthroscopy may be different for everyone and what happens during your surgery depends on how much damage there is to your wrist and what needs to be done. Talk to your consultant about what will happen during your surgery.

Wrist arthroscopy is normally performed under regional anaesthetic. This is a type of anaesthetic that numbs the area of the body being operated on. You'll be awake for the surgery, but you won't feel any pain. You may also be given medication to relax you during the procedure. In some cases, you may be given a general anaesthetic for your surgery.

Once your anaesthetic has taken effect, your consultant will make between two and four incisions into your wrist. They will insert the arthroscope and inject a salty fluid into your wrist joint to help them see more clearly. They will examine the joint on the screen and identify any problems. They may insert special surgical instruments through other incisions to repair any damage, and remove bone fragments, or damaged or inflamed tissue.

When the procedure is finished, your consultant will close the incisions and apply a sterile dressing and bandage to your wrist.

Wrist arthroscopy normally takes between 30 minutes and one hour.

Recovery from wrist arthroscopy is different for everyone and depends on many factors such as your age, general health and what was done during your procedure.

After your surgery, your hand and fingers will be bruised and swollen, and you may experience some mild post-operative pain. Your consultant will prescribe painkillers to help with pain and discomfort after your surgery.

You may need to wear a splint for a week or two after your surgery. This is to keep your wrist immobilised while it heals.

You will need to keep your wrist elevated for two to three days after your arthroscopy. Applying ice packs to your wrist can also help with pain and swelling. The swelling should start to go down around two to three weeks after your surgery.

Your physiotherapist will show you some exercises you can do after your arthroscopy. Doing these exercises regularly will help to reduce stiffness and restore function and range of motion to your wrist.

How many nights will I need to stay in hospital?

Wrist arthroscopy is normally done as a day case meaning you can usually go home later the same day.

Will I be able to drive home?

You will not be able to drive yourself home from the hospital after your surgery. Ask someone to come and collect you, or we can arrange a taxi if you prefer.

How soon can I go back to work?

How soon you can go back to work depends on your recovery and the type of job you do. On average you should allow at least two weeks off work after your surgery. Talk to your consultant about when you can expect to return to work after surgery.

How soon can I drive?

When you can drive after your wrist arthroscopy depends on your recovery and how soon you regain enough strength in your wrist to drive safely. In general, you should wait at least two weeks after your surgery before driving. Talk to your consultant about when you will be able to drive after your surgery. You should also speak with your insurance provider to see when they deem you fit to drive again.

When will I be back to normal?

Everyone recovers from surgery differently and it's important that you go at your own pace during your recovery. Trying to do too much too soon can cause complications and delay your overall progress.

You can help your recovery to go smoothly by being as healthy as possible before and after your surgery and following your consultant's instructions carefully.

Most people are able to resume daily activities after around two weeks and are fully recovered by around six weeks after wrist arthroscopy.

Arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery has many benefits over open surgery including:

  • You can usually go home later the same day
  • Many problems can be diagnosed and treated during the same procedure
  • Lower risk of complications compared to open surgery
  • No large incisions are made and damage to soft tissue is reduced
  • Less pain and joint stiffness
  • Recovery is faster than after open surgery

As with all surgery, there is a small risk of complications after wrist arthroscopy. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that has a much lower risk of complications than open surgery.

General risks of surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Adverse reactions to the anaesthetic

Risks specific to wrist arthroscopy include:

  • Damage to the nerves, tendons, or cartilage
  • Joint stiffness and reduced range of motion

Your consultant will explain all the possible risks and complications before your surgery. Please ask your consultant any questions you have about possible risks and complications of surgery. This will help put your mind at rest and allow you to make an informed decision.

We answer some of your most commonly asked questions about wrist arthroscopy.

How long does wrist arthroscopy take?

Depending on what is done during the procedure, wrist arthroscopy normally takes between 30 minutes and one hour.

How long does it take to recover from wrist arthroscopy?

Recovery from arthroscopic surgery is a gradual process that is different for everyone. Most people can resume normal activities around two weeks after surgery, but some pain and swelling may continue for up to six weeks.

Is a wrist arthroscopy painful?

While you are having your surgery you will be given a regional nerve block and you will not feel any pain. Some mild pain may occur after your operation, but this can be relieved by taking regular painkillers.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant best suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about wrist arthroscopy, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in January 2023. Next review due January 2026.

  1. Wrist Arthroscopy, OrthoInfo
  2. Wrist Surgery: Arthroscopy,  American Society for Surgery of the Hand
  3. Wrist Arthroscopy, PubMed
  4. Wrist Arthroscopy, MedlinePlus

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