Life As Is

Kienbock’s Disease

What is Kienbock’s Disease?

Kienbock’s Disease is a condition where the lunate bone of your wrist does not get proper blood supply and begins to deteriorate and collapse.  It is a form of Avascular Necrosis.

Kienbock’s affects less than 10% of the population (1/15000), making this a rare disease. There is no cure although there are way to “manage” it, leading up to and including surgery.  There are different “Stages” of this disease, although many doctors no longer use the stage system.

You can read more about Kienbock’s Disease, the stages and treatments Here

:: My Story ::

It was about 2011 and I was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was a KFC with a buffet and that’s the section I worked. It involved lifting and carrying hot and semi-heavy pans.
I woke up one morning and went to work. While trying to place the pans into the buffet table I noticed a bad pain in my wrist. I wasn’t sure what it could be, as I hadn’t had any injury or trauma to it at that time.
I went about my day and when the pain didn’t really subside – I asked my friend to borrow their wrist brace. I could barley work without it. I wore it for about two weeks before the pain let up. It never really went away but it was bearable.  Any time my wrist would act up – I would wear my brace and just take it easy with it for a few days.
I went on like this for several years due to lack of insurance and I was able to cope with the pain. Some days were worse than others but I managed the pain for the most part.

A few years passed, a few job changes, a couple of moves and life kept going.  Eventually I got a decent insurance and I was tired of the daily pain so I made an appointment.  My General Practitioner ordered an X-ray and an MRI.  The X-ray seemed ok but the MRI showed “Necrosis of the Carpal Lunate”.
My doctor was unsure the cause and Kienbock’s was never discussed. She sent me to a Rheumatologist. (There is alot of RA history in my family).  I was tested for RA and the tests came back negative. the Rheumatologist couldn’t really do anything but offer a topical medication to help. 

Add a couple more years to the time-line, along with moves and switching doctors – I decided to try again.  The new doctor got my history from my previous doctor and made the referral for me to see a hand specialist.  By this time I had already googled “Necrosis of the Carpal Lunate – Not RA” and found Kienbock’s Disease. I had self diagnosed my own problem.

The hand specialist took an updated MRI. After reviewing the tests he asked me if I knew what Kienbock’s Disease was. I was right in my own suspicions and research.
Surgery was scheduled. My lunate bone had already broken apart and collapsed within my wrist. I didn’t have any other options for treatment except surgery or pain management. I had already been managing the pain for years – I was ready for the next step.  The surgery I had to have was called a Proximal Row Carpectomy (PRC).  What this did was remove a row of bones out of my wrist, including the Lunate bone. (we have two rows of bones). This is not a cure but a way to manage the disease.  A full fusion of my wrist may be in my future.

After Surgery

It’s been a little over a year since my surgery and although my range of motion is limited, the constant daily pain is gone.  I had limited motion before the surgery so that’s not a big issue. I’ve adapted to it. I still wear my brace quite often as it’s taken time to heal and rebuild strength in my wrist. Honestly, I am just glad the constant daily ache that I had for 10 years is gone.

I have to be gentle with my wrist but as time goes on and I keep doing physical therapy with it – strength will build. It will never be a “normal” wrist.

Kienbock’s Disease isn’t something always recognizable, many general practitioners haven’t even heard of it because it’s not very common.

I’m happy I finally found an answer to the years of pain. No wonder it would hurt – I had a bone literally breaking apart inside my wrist! Crazy to think about.  It is possible to develop it in my other wrist but that is rare as well. It does affect some in both wrists so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it’s just the one.

So that’s an introduction to Kienbock’s Disease and my ordeal with it.  I know it affects others due to my own research – you tube has a few videos that follow people on their journey with this disease.

If you’re in pain – don’t ever stop asking questions until you get answers that make sense.  Be your own best advocate and take care of yourselves.

Much love to you all.

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