Hand Joint Replacement Surgery

What is hand joint replacement surgery?

Like all the other replacement surgeries, hand joint replacement surgery or hand joint arthroplasty is the surgical procedure to improve the joint pain (includes finger joint pain, hand joint pain and thumb joint pain) and functioning of the hand. The surgery is meant for people who suffer from severe hand pain and discomforts. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis are usually considered for hand joint replacement surgery. In sum, arthritis of the hand and wrist is the major cause of hand joint replacement surgery.

Hand Joint Replacement

What are the common signs and symptoms of hand and wrist arthritis?

Apart from severe pain, other signs and symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling over the joint
  • Limited movements of the joint
  • Difficulty in doing daily activities
  • Changes in the presentation of the joints
  • Nodes, bumps and swelling at the small joints
  • Bone spurs and Deformity

Who is a candidate for hand joint replacement surgery?

The procedure is not suitable for all who suffer from hand joint pain. It is not suggested to patients with:

  • Reduced bone density
  • Improper bone structure
  • Chronic infection and
  • Poor soft tissues

What are the different surgical options for hand and wrist arthritis?

Apart from hand joint replacement surgery, hand and wrist arthritis is also approached with other surgical options such as surgical cleaning of the joint and joint fusion. Surgical cleaning of the joint is suggested for patients with early wear and tear arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients with inflamed tissues. It removes the bone spurs that causes pain. Joint fusion is suggested for patients with advanced arthritis.

How is the joint replacement (small) procedure done?

The surgical option differs according to the different joints of the hand. Small joints are the commonly affected joint of the hand. The surgery is carried out under anesthesia (either general or local). It may take around two hours to complete. An incision will be made on the back of the finger joint. To expose the joint, the surgeon may spread out the soft tissues. A burr is a small, cutting device, which is used to create an incision in the finger joint bones. A prosthesis is then shaped to fit the finger bone and inserted. To give additional support to the prosthesis, the ligaments are repositioned and soft tissues are stitched back. A splint and bandage are used to support and cover the finger after the procedure.

What are the risks and complications of hand joint (small) replacement surgery?

It is a major surgery and there are risks involved. Some of the possible risks and complications include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Implant loosening
  • Damage to the implants

How about the recovery?

A well-planned follow-up is required to maintain good results. Excessive activities of the operated hand are not allowed for a few weeks after the surgery. The surgeon will prescribe medications to control the pain and difficulties after the surgery. To regain mobility and strength of the hand joint, physical therapy may also be required.

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