What is Kienböck’s Disease?

An orthopedic doctor will treat thousands of patients with different cases during his or her career, some of them common and others that are rare. One rare condition that affects the wrist is a syndrome known as Kienböck’s Disease. The following are a few facts about this unusual disorder and what you should know.

What is Kienböck’s?Orthopedic_Doctor

In your wrist are eight bones. One of those small bones is called the lunate and is affected in a case of Kienböck’s. The blood flow that travels towards the hand is interrupted before it reaches the lunate. As with any body part without adequate blood flow, the lunate begins to degrade, degenerate, and die. Over time it can actually crumble into small pieces or develop arthritis.


Kienböck’s is an unsolved mystery in orthopedic science. The disease typically strikes adults from 20-40 years of age (although it has been diagnosed to some in their teen years). The cause often cannot be identified. It can sometimes be brought on by trauma like a break, and some research has suggested ethnicity may possibly play a part.


Most people who are diagnosed with Kienböck’s by an orthopedic doctor come in due to pain in the wrist. Sometimes the problem mimics a sprain, and the wrist is stiff and uncomfortable. Range of motion is reduced and the patient has decreased grip strength in the affected hand, which can continue to diminish if left untreated.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An orthopedic doctor may perform an examination, MRI, x-rays, or CT scan to confirm Kienböck’s Disease. Once it is confirmed, the doctor can tell what stage of progression the patient is in and how best to treat it. For milder stages, an anti-inflammatory medication might be prescribed, and the wrist immobilized in a splint or brace. More advanced cases may need surgery to fix. Bone fusion, surgery on veins to restore blood flow, or removal of the crumpled lunate may also be used for extreme cases.

Kienböck’s Disease is an interesting and unusual orthopedic problem. For more information or to talk about your joint issues, call your orthopedic doctor today.

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