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Television News Service/Medical Breakthroughs
ŠIvanhoe Broadcast News, Inc. August 1999



According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 23 million Americans have osteo or rheumatoid arthritis. For those whose pain is not relieved by medication, the only treatment alternative is joint replacement. Artificial knees, hips and shoulders are common and effective. Now, a replacement of a different joint is available.

For about 30 years, 55-year-old Violet Arnold has battled both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. They made knitting almost impossible. "We're talking pain. Like on a scale from one to 10, a six," says Violet.

She already had a shoulder and both knees replaced when Brian Adams, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, recommended she replace another joint -- her wrist.

Dr. Adams explains, "Prior to wrist replacement, or reliable wrist replacement, our only choice was to fuse the wrist."  Fusion is still common, he says, but doesn't have to be. A new FDA-approved artificial wrist makes it possible to eliminate pain and preserve movement. "I usually tell them it's about half of what a normal wrist would move. It may be even slightly less than that, but in many cases, it's more than what they have," says Dr. Adams.

With encouragement from her sister, Ruth, Violet got the implant. "I have no pain in it now," she says.

Dr. Adams says it won't hold up in people who use their wrists a lot, but for Violet, and others like her, it can last several decades. He says that because wrist replacement has not worked well in the past, doctors may hesitate to recommend it. He advises patients to tell their doctor about the new wrist implant and ask him or her to look into it.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Arthritis Foundation 1314 Spring Street N.W. Atlanta, GA 30309 (800) 283-7800

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