Replacement of the joints of the fingers (arthroplasty) can take away the pain of arthritis and preserve or restore function of the hand. People with painful arthritis of their fingers will often benefit from hand therapy including splinting and targeted exercises before considering surgery.
People with finger joint arthritis that remains painful and limits function of the hands are candidates for joint replacement surgery.
Finger joint arthroplasty is usually a day-only procedure and you will be admitted on the morning of the surgery. The hospital will discuss the time of arrival and fasting arrangements. You would normally have to stop anticoagulant medication prior to this procedure but Dr Stewart can advise you about your specific requirements.
During the operation, the arthritic joint surfaces are removed and the joint replaced with either a silicone or metal and plastic joint replacement. The attachments of the tendons are reattached to allow movement of the reconstructed finger.
After a short period of immobilization, patients need regular visits to a hand therapist for a combination of protective splinting and exercises to regain movement and strength in the operated finger and the rest of the hand.
The major complication of joint replacement is infection. Although rare in elective hand surgery, an infection could require removal of the joint replacement and further surgery. Long term complications include loosening or dislocation of the joint replacement.
Long term splinting can be an alternative to surgical treatment of finger arthritis. In some joints of the hand, fusion rather than replacement of the joint offers a simpler and effective cure for painful arthritis, at the cost of losing joint motion.