Joint replacement in the hand is an option for treating joints that have become stiff and painful, most commonly due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. In a healthy joint, the bones are covered with cartilage and lubricated by a substance called synovial fluid. If the cartilage is worn or damaged or the joint is lacking in the proper fluid, movement becomes painful and the joint begins to stiffen. Replacing the affected joint or joints can eliminate pain and restore smoother function and mobility.

Fingers have three sections, or phalanges, which are joined by joints that work like hinges. The joints are supported by bands of strong tissue called ligaments. In the replacement procedure, the ends of the bones that form the phalange joint are removed and replaced with a silicon joint that also functions like a hinge. Wrapping the new joint with the nearby ligaments protects the implant and provides strength and stability.

Following the procedure, the hand will be placed in a splint to immobilize it and facilitate the initial healing process. A therapist will work with you to minimize discomfort and begin gentle exercises to regain strength and range of motion. As recovery progresses, the therapist will help you learn ways to perform tasks that minimize stress on your joints, and provide you with a regimen of stretches and exercises you can perform on your own to optimize your outcome.

For more information visit:
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand
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