Osteoarthritis is the name given to age-related arthritis which causes the affected joint to become painful and stiff. The process of osteoarthritis involves wearing or thinning of the smooth cartilage joint surfaces as well as stiffening to the soft tissue surrounding the joint. These aspects combine to produce swelling, inflammation and pain. Several factors normally combine to cause symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Previous joint damage (from trauma or other conditions such as such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Age (risk increases with age)
- Family history (genetics)
As it is not a weight-bearing joint, significant wrist osteoarthritis often only develops in individuals who have sustained previous trauma to the joint or who have been involved with occupations or recreational use of the wrist involving sustained, heavy loads being placed through the joint.