If you’ve never heard of Kienbock’s disease, you’re not alone. In fact, it is a rare condition that disrupts the blood supply to the lunate. So, what is the lunate? It’s one of eight small carpal bones in the wrist, located at the middle of the base of the wrist, and is key to wrist movement. The exact cause of Kienbock’s disease is not yet known, but it is often associated with a wrist injury that affects blood supply to the lunate. It’s also thought to be related to small, repetitive injuries to the wrist–for example, if you use a jackhammer in your line of work.
Symptoms of Kienbock’s Disease
Kienbock’s disease progresses in stages, which we’ll get to in a moment. Symptoms of the condition include pain in the wrist during the disease’s early stages. As it progresses, symptoms may include:
- Decreased hand grip
- Tenderness over the bone
- Clicking sound when the wrist moves
- Difficulty turning the hand upward
The disease tends to progress through four stages:
- Stage 1: The lunate is not getting the proper blood flow, though the damage may not show up in an X-ray. You may experience pain in the wrist, similar to a sprain.
- Stage 2: The lunate begins to harden due to the lack of blood; this condition is called sclerosis and will show on an X-ray. At this point, the wrist may be swollen, painful, and tender.
- Stage 3: With blood cut off, the lunate dies and breaks, leading your other wrist bones to shift. This may cause more pain, limit motion, and weaken your grip.
- Stage 4: Finally, the bones surrounding the lunate deteriorate, which can cause arthritis in the wrist.
Oddly enough, Kienbock’s disease generally affects only one wrist.
Treatment of Kienbock’s Disease
There is no known cure for Kienbock’s disease, but the condition can be managed with treatment upon diagnosis. If you’re in the early stages, prescription anti-inflammatory medications may help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Your doctor also may recommend you immobilize the wrist to take pressure off the lunate and restore blood flow. This may involve wearing a cast or splint for a couple of weeks.
Physical therapy has also been shown to help improve the range of motion in your wrist. At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we would assess your wrist to help identify the severity of the disease and create an exercise routine designed to help you maintain usage in the wrist. If your wrist bones have reached the point of deterioration, however, surgery may be the best course of action.
Not much is known about Kienbock’s disease, particularly how many people it afflicts. The National Institute of Health’s Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center states that it is a very rare condition, and one estimate found approximately 7 in 100,000 people with Kienbock’s disease among people who were having wrist imaging for other reasons. That said, if the disease is caught in the early stages, non-surgical treatments like physical therapy can be effective and allow people to live comfortably.
If you’re experiencing wrist pain similar to a sprain, it’s probably worth having it checked out by a doctor. And while early stages of Kienbock’s disease may not be apparent in a scan or X-ray, it could be detected in later stages–and that may save you a lot of time and pain. At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we’re here to help your wrist pain–and any other type of pain you might be experiencing.
Conveniently located in the heart of the Metroplex, with easy access from Dallas, Fort Worth, and the surrounding suburbs, Physical Therapy NOW’s Irving state-of-the-art facility and our team of PT experts are ready to help. Call us today at (214) 225-0291 to set up an appointment.