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Mr Paul Jarrett MB ChB FRCSed (Orth) FRACS FA OrthA

St John of God Murdoch

Direct Line 1300 527 738 Fax 1300 527 329 Email

Scapholunate Ligament and Wrist Ligament Injuries

The bones within the wrist move carefully in combination with the other bones in predetermined ways to ensure the mechanics of the wrist work well.  A complex set of ligaments within your wrist keep the motion in check.  If you put enough force on your wrist, it is possible to injure these ligaments. Sometimes it is possible to fracture your wrist as well as injure the ligaments, or the ligaments may be injured in isolation.  Arguably the most important ligaments are those between the scaphoid and lunate called the scapholunate ligament.  If these are injured, there will be a significant effect on the use of your wrist, along with pain and reduced function.  If you have a severe scapholunate ligament injury, it is unlikely that your wrist will return to normal in the long term, regardless of treatment. Having said that, treatment often leads to a significant improvement to the wrist.

It can be quite difficult to diagnose ligament injuries in the wrist.  Often x-rays may appear normal, and even MRI scans do not always diagnose the problem.  It is advisable to see a hand surgeon like Mr Jarreett for specialist diagnosis.  Please be aware that Mr Jarrett will need to arthroscope your wrist to ensure a correct diagnosis.

Wrist Ligament Injury Treatment Options

Milder injuries may be treated with a splint for approximately eight weeks.  Patients with moderate or severe injuries, ligament repair or reconstruction, will usually require two operations around eight weeks apart.  The ligament will be repaired and reconstructed in the first operation.  The second operation is needed to remove supporting metal wire or wires from the wrist.

Patients with milder chronic issues will gain improved wrist function and decreased pain from our special proprioceptive exercises program supervised by our hand therapists.

Postoperative care

If surgery is undertaken, a splint is required full time for eight weeks and part time for a further four weeks.  Hand therapy will be necessary to rehabilitate your wrist over several months.  As mentioned earlier, your wrist is unlikely to return to normal after treatment, but should give you an improved outcome compared to undertaking no treatment.