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What is Kienbock's disease?

Kienbock's disease is a condition in which the lunate, one of the small bones of the wrist loses its blood supply leading to the death of the bone. This results in pain, stiffness, and degenerative changes in the wrist joint. The exact aetiology of Kienbock's disease is unknown.

What are the symptoms of Kienbock's disease?

Symptoms of Kienbock's disease include

  • painful and swollen wrist with decreased motion
  • reduced grip strength
  • difficulty or pain in turning the hand upward and
  • tenderness in the area over the back of the wrist near the lunate bone

Diagnosis of Kienbock's disease

Kienbock's disease can be diagnosed by reviewing your medical history and by performing a thorough physical examination of your hand and wrist. Your doctor may also order an MRI and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Kienbock's disease

Treatment depends upon the severity and stage of the disease. In the very early and less severe stage, treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications or immobilization. Your doctor may recommend surgery if the pain is not relieved with the conservative treatment. The aim of surgery is to restore the blood supply to the lunate and may involve the following:

  • Revascularization involves the insertion of a vascularized graft into the lunate bone.
  • Joint levelling refers to lengthening or shortening of the forearm bones (ulna and radius).
  • Fusion: Wrist arthrodesis, also called wrist fusion is a procedure in which the wrist joint is stabilized or immobilized by fusing the forearm bone (radius) with the small bones of the wrist.
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