SLAC Wrist Surgery

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

This article will discuss the world of SLAC wrist surgery, exploring its causes, symptoms, benefits, and what happens during the procedure. 

Whether you’re seeking relief from pain or looking to regain function in your wrist, understanding SLAC wrist surgery is the first step toward a better quality of life. If you’re ready to take that step, our specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow are here to help. Schedule an appointment in Marietta or Atlanta, GA, today to start your journey towards a pain-free future.

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Understanding Scapholunate Advanced Collapse (SLAC) Wrist

SLAC wrist, or Scapholunate Advanced Collapse, is a condition that affects the wrist joint, leading to significant wrist pain and reduced wrist motion. It occurs when there is a problem with the scapholunate ligament, which is a key ligament that connects two of the major wrist bones, the scaphoid and lunate bones.

When this ligament is torn, it causes instability between these bones, leading to a cascade of problems in the wrist. Over time, the misalignment and improper movement of the scaphoid and lunate bones result in abnormal wear and tear on the surrounding wrist bones, eventually causing wrist arthritis. This progressive arthritis is known as scapholunate advanced collapse SLAC wrist.

As the condition worsens, the wrist joint experiences advanced collapse, leading to more severe pain and further loss of wrist motion. This deterioration makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks that involve the wrist.

What Are the Symptoms of SLAC Wrist?

SLAC wrist has several symptoms that can significantly impact daily life. The condition is often a result of a scapholunate ligament injury, where this important ligament in the wrist is torn. Here are the key symptoms to watch for:

  • Wrist Pain: The most common symptom of SLAC wrist is pain in the wrist. This pain usually starts gradually and worsens over time, especially with activities that involve gripping or twisting.
  • Swelling and Tenderness: The wrist may become swollen and tender to the touch. This is due to the inflammation caused by the instability of the wrist bones and the resulting arthritis.
  • Decreased Wrist Motion: As the condition progresses, you may notice a reduction in your wrist’s range of motion. Simple tasks like opening jars, turning doorknobs, or lifting objects can become difficult and painful.
  • Weakness: The wrist might feel weaker than usual. This weakness is due to the deteriorating function of the wrist joint as the bones and ligaments become more damaged.
  • Clicking or Popping: You might hear or feel clicking, popping, or grinding sensations in the wrist. These noises are caused by the abnormal movement of the wrist bones due to the torn ligament.

If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice. A scapholunate ligament injury needs proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent further damage.

Who is a Candidate for SLAC Wrist Surgery?

Candidates for SLAC wrist surgery typically have the following characteristics:

  • Severe Wrist Pain: Pain that interferes with daily activities and has not improved with non-surgical treatments.
  • Advanced SLAC: Significant degeneration of the wrist joint due to a scapholunate ligament injury.
  • Failed Conservative Treatments: Non-surgical treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and bracing have not provided relief.

How to Prepare for the Surgery

Preparation for SLAC wrist surgery includes:

  • Medical Evaluation: A thorough examination by your doctor to assess your overall health and the extent of the wrist damage.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to get a detailed view of the wrist joint.
  • Pre-Surgical Instructions: Following specific guidelines provided by your surgeon, such as fasting before surgery and adjusting medications.
  • Post-Surgery Planning: Arranging for help at home and planning for rehabilitation exercises to aid in recovery.

What Happens During SLAC Wrist Surgery?

 There are several surgical options for treating SLAC wrist:

  1. Wrist Ligament Reconstruction: This procedure aims to repair or replace the torn scapholunate ligament, restoring stability to the wrist and preventing further damage.
  2. Partial Wrist Fusion Surgery: In this surgery, some of the wrist bones are fused together to reduce pain while retaining some wrist motion. This is also known as limited wrist fusion.
  3. Total Wrist Fusion: In this procedure, all the wrist bones are fused into one solid bone, eliminating pain but also significantly limiting wrist motion.
  4. Proximal Row Carpectomy with or without ligament interposition: This is a specialized surgery that seeks to alleviate the pain while maintaining some degree of motion in the wrist joint.
  5. Wrist Joint Replacement: This involves replacing the damaged wrist joint with an artificial one, which can help maintain wrist motion and function.

The choice of procedure depends on the severity of the condition and the patient’s specific needs.

What Are the Benefits of SLAC Wrist Surgery?

SLAC wrist surgery offers several benefits for those suffering from Scapholunate Advanced Collapse. Here are some key advantages:

  • Pain Relief: One of the most significant benefits of SLAC wrist surgery is pain relief. The surgery addresses the root cause of the pain, whether through a ligament reconstruction procedure, partial wrist fusion, or total wrist fusion. By stabilizing the wrist joint or replacing damaged parts, the surgery helps reduce or eliminate the chronic pain associated with SLAC wrist.
  • Improved Wrist Function: Surgery can improve wrist function and range of motion. For instance, a ligament reconstruction procedure restores stability to the wrist, allowing for better movement and functionality in daily activities.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: By reducing pain and improving wrist function, SLAC wrist surgery can significantly enhance the quality of life. Patients often find it easier to perform everyday tasks, engage in hobbies, and return to work without the constant discomfort and limitations caused by the condition.
  • Prevention of Further Damage: Early surgical intervention can prevent further deterioration of the wrist joint. This proactive approach helps maintain the health of the wrist and avoid more extensive damage over time.

Discover Relief with SLAC Wrist Surgery at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of SLAC wrist, don’t wait to seek help. The specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, are experts in diagnosing and treating SLAC wrist. Schedule an appointment today to explore your treatment options and start your journey toward a pain-free life!

Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon