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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Kienbock's disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Bilateral Kienbock's disease
  • Kienbock disease
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Your Question

Is there a cure for Kienbock's disease that doesn't involve surgery?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Can Kienbock's disease be cured?

With treatment, people with Kienbock's disease can experience a restoration in hand function (improvement with motion and grip) and decreased pain.[1] However, individual outcomes of treatment may vary. There are several nonsurgical and surgical options for treating this condition. The goals of treatment are to relieve the pressure on the lunate and to try to restore blood flow within the bone.[2] 
Last updated: 12/31/2012

What nonsurgical options are available for the treatment of Kienbock's disease?

The primary means of nonsurgical treatment of Kienbock's disease involve immobilization and anti-inflammatory medications.[1] The wrist may be immobilized through splinting or casting over a period of two to three weeks. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help to relieve pain and reduce swelling. If the pain continues after these conservative treatments, your physician may refer you to an orthopaedic or hand surgeon for further evaluation.[2] 
Last updated: 8/16/2011

What surgical options are available for the treatment of Kienbock's disease?

There are several surgical options utilized for the treatment of more-advanced stages of Kienbock's disease. The choice of procedure depends on several factors, including disease progression, activity level, personal goals, and the surgeon's experience with the procedures.[2]

In some cases, it is possible to return the blood supply to the bone, a process called revascularization. This procedure involves taking a portion of bone (a graft) from the inner bone of the lower arm. In some cases, a metal device called an external fixator may be used to relieve the pressure on the lunate and preserve the spacing between bones.[2]

If the bones of the lower arm are uneven in length, a joint leveling procedure may be recommended. Bones can be made longer using bone grafts or shortened by removing a section of the bone. This leveling procedure reduces the forces that bear down on or compress the lunate and may halt progression of the disease.[2]

If the lunate is severely collapsed or fragmented into pieces, it can be removed. In this procedure, the two bones on either side of the lunate are also removed. This procedure, called a proximal row carpectomy, often relieves pain while maintaining partial wrist motion.[2]

Another procedure that can ease the pressure on the bone is fusion. In this procedure, several of the small bones of the hand are fused together. If the disease has progressed to severe arthritis of the wrist, fusing the bones may reduce pain and help maintain function. A drawback to this type of procedure is that the range of wrist motion may become limited.[2]

To learn more about the surgical options available for the management of Kienbock's disease, click here

Last updated: 8/16/2011