Wrist fusion---I'm an athletic senior considering it

sgilbert Member Posts: 3
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:08 in Living with arthritis


I'm new to the forum and looking to find feedback on full wrist fusion. At 68, I'm very physically active---water skiing, snow skiing, walking, biking, fishing, hunting. As to these various activities, I love water skiing the most, and do a lot of slalom course skiing---including an occasional tournament. Unfortunately, due to a ruptured ligament several years ago, my right wrist is close to needing a full fusion (bone-on-bone). To reduce the pain/provide stability, I currently take Aleve, have at least one steroid shot/yr, use braces, etc.). Surprising, water skiing doesn't bother me that much (probably because it causes separation between the Scaphoid and Radius). Hammering, raking, lifting a few pounds (with my right hand), riding a bike, and various twisting motions cause the most pain/discomfort.

Yes, I know that I'm 68, but I'm looking for feedback primarily from athletic people who have undergone a full wrist fusion. I certainly don't want to give up my hobbies if I can avoid it. My questions are as follows:

  1. Can I continue to water ski at a relatively competitive level? I believe that hand alignment during water skiing would mirror the relatively straight hand configuration after a wrist fusion (with side-to-side motion preserved). Thus, grip strength might be the biggest wild-card. I would guess that rock climbing, rowing, etc. might have a lot of hand alignment similarities.
  2. My grip strength has been progressively weakening. Will I get some (or much) of that grip strength back after recovering from a full wrist fusion?
  3. At what point did you decide that the losing the "pain" would be worth losing the "mobility" in the hand?
  4. If I get a full fusion, I'm going to work hard adapting to it (and it's limitations). What should I be aware of, say, 6+ months in that might make me wonder if I made the right decision?

Thanks so much for your feedback.


  • Tom
    Tom Member Posts: 523

    Welcome to the forum, @sgilbert . I will have to go for a lie down in a darkened room. I am exhausted just reading your list of activities.

    You are contemplating full wrist fusion to alleviate the effects of a ruptured ligament and seek information from the forum to help you come to a decision.

    Here is a link to information on our website:

    I hope that you will get responses from Forum members, but I sense that you are pushing the boundaries with your aims. Good luck and please keep posting.

    Tom, Moderator.

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,604

    I wish I could help. My wrists fused themselves years ago and I'-ve completely forgotten what 'normal' is like. I'm painfree there and that suits me.

    I think the best person to ask would be your prospective surgeon. Sometimes, after surgery, what we CAN do isn't necessarily what we SHOULD do if we want all to continue well.

    I can't remember anyone on here doing all the things you do. I think it's great that you can but I'd urge you again to ask the experts. And good luck.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • sgilbert
    sgilbert Member Posts: 3

    Tom, your response is typically what I see when I get on this type of forum —“You’ve lived an active life, but it’s time to find a couch, and don’t forget the buffet line at the local Golden Corral.” I hope that I receive responses from people anywhere from 30 years of age to 80 who have experienced wrist issues and who had a wrist fusion. It’s not all that uncommon with Motocross, mountain-bikers, rock climbers. Please give me a shout, but don’t cut me short.

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,604

    @sgilbert , if you take a good look round here you'll see that 'regulars' either have an inflammatory form of arthritis or have OA in multiple joints. ie we are not fixable. Those who get a great deal of relief from a single operation tend to come on briefly then disappear. They rarely return regularly to see if they can be of help to others. Few people are so altruistic.

    If wrist fusion operations are "not all that uncommon with Motocross, mountain-bikers, rock climbers" you would probably have more luck posting on their sites.

    By the way, I don't think Mod Tom meant what he said unkindly. I took his reply to be a combination of envy and humour.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Brynmor
    Brynmor Member Posts: 1,755
    edited 27. May 2022, 11:17

    Hi @sgilbert

    Although not having wrist problems, @Skilegs may know of others who have similar problems to yours and you may wish to try to get in touch.

    There are more details from @Skilegs here:

  • Hi. Sorry for your pain and injury.

    I am in the same boat as the one you describe. I am a professional bowler and broke my hand leading to the insertion of 2 plates and pins. Dr. says I had a good run but no more bowling and short of a fusion can do anything that I can tolerate the pain around. I am considering the fusion but also considering just living well. Believe me, my heart is broken. Loss of mobility isnt my worst concern. My worst concern is the surgery and life changes that go with surgeries. Concerning stuff. Please let me know how you are doing.

  • Ellen
    Ellen Moderator Posts: 1,485

    Good morning @msilver300

    Welcome to the online community.

    I always like it when someone's first post is in support of someone else. Apologies to @sgilbert for the hijack of your post I just wanted to welcome @msilver300 .

    @msilver300 is it worth your while reading this? I did a search of all the threads about wrist fusion:

    Thank you again for your thoughtful reply I hope you yourself will get plenty out of the forum. Living with Arthritis is often a very active category. I would be interested to hear what you decide to do too!

    My best wishes


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