The Finger Joint Replacement Operation

In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As the cartilage continues to wear away, the bone will rub against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.

The Finger Joint Replacement operation involves replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one so patients can do their activities with improved freedom of movement and less pain. An incision is made across the affected finger joints that are to be replaced. The joint is then exposed. The ends of the bones that form the finger joint surfaces are taken off, forming flat surfaces. The surgeon then sizes the stem of the prosthesis to ensure a snug fit into the hollow bone marrow space. The prosthesis is then inserted into the ends of both finger bones.

After The Operation

Your finger will be bandaged with a well-padded dressing and a splint for support. The splint will keep the finger in a straightened position during healing. To avoid swelling and throbbing, you should keep your hand elevated for the first few days. Keep it propped up on a stack of pillows when sleeping or sitting up. The stitches will be removed after ten days by the hand therapist.

You may drive after 4 weeks if you feel safe to do so. You may begin light duties after 4 weeks and most patients can return to normal activity after 2 months.

Risks Of Surgery

As with all major surgical procedures, complications can occur. Local swelling around the surgical site can persist for longer then anticipated but this can be helped by massaging the tissues and hand therapy. The hand may also become stiff but this can be reduced by keeping it elevated and moving all the free joints as soon as possible. Occasionally patients are troubled by more swelling and stiffness than average. In this case Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is sometimes the cause. Infection is also rare. The implant can break or become loose in which case you need further surgical treatment.

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