Finger Joint Replacement Surgery
When nonsurgical efforts have been unsuccessful at relieving arthritic conditions in the hand, finger joint replacement, also known as joint arthroplasty may be used to alleviate pain and correct joint damage or deformities.
Until recently, the traditional surgical procedure, joint fusion, controlled the pain associated with injured or arthritic fingers; however, it greatly limited their flexibility.
Finger joint replacement or arthroplasty, not only relieves pain due to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but it also provides enough flexibility to swing a golf club or even use a tennis racket.
The procedure takes generally two hours and is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made across the back of the joint and tissues are spread apart to expose the joint. A physician replaces the arthritic joint with a silicon plastic implant. This implant has the same functionality as a door hinge.
Joints that contain arthritis are generally the cause of stiffness, pain, and swelling in the hand. However, the artificial joint provides increased range of motion and less pain.
Some patients begin rehabilitation one to two days after surgery, but others may need more time. A splint is generally worn for four to five weeks after the procedure in order to keep the joint stable and aid in the healing and strengthening of soft tissues.
It may be necessary to meet with a physical therapist for approximately six to eight weeks. First, heat therapy may be used to ease pain and swelling. Next, range-of-motion exercises are used to strengthen and stabilize the joint.
Within about eight to 10 weeks, the majority of patients regain, on average, about two-thirds of the finger’s normal range of motion. By that point, patients are able to resume their usual activities. However, recovering patients should continue to tape the finger with the new joint to an adjacent finger for additional support whenever they’re performing activities that require a grip and release motion.
Once fully healed, a majority of patients report they have most, if not all, of their previous range of motion and strength.
Hand joint replacement surgery options differ according to the specific joint(s) involved. Not all joints are suitable for replacement. It is important to schedule an appointment with your hand and wrist specialist at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine to determine your eligibility for joint replacement surgery.