I had surgery for arthritis on the thumb-side of my wrist. Surgery helped with the pain, but now I can hardly move my hand. Is this normal? What causes it?

Unfortunately, reduced mobility in the wrist is a common side effect of this kind of surgery. Some patients also lose grip strength and wrist function.

A group of researchers in Australia recently suggested that the scaphoid--the largest bone on the thumb side of the wrist--may "bridge" the mid-section of the wrist after surgery, blocking movement. Removing a small section on the far end of the scaphoid improves wrist movement.

After taking out part of the scaphoid in 10 cadaver wrists, these researchers found that up and down wrist movements improved to 86 percent of normal. Movements to each side also improved, though not as much.

Taking out the scaphoid to help with wrist stiffness is a new procedure that's still being tested. Talk with your doctor about your problems with wrist mobility. He or she will be able to recommend appropriate treatment, such as surgery or physical therapy.