Sometimes, due to injury, regular wear and tear, or other problems, the joints throughout your body can simply stop working properly. Normally, in a healthy joint, the two bones will glide across each other due to articular cartilage, which is smooth and slick. There is also a layer of fluid called synovial, which allows the joint to work smoothly as well. Different problems can affect the joint, creating a situation in which it becomes stiff, swollen, or unable to work. The cartilage can wear out or become damaged. The joint fluid may become abnormal. If the joint is damaged enough, then joint replacement surgery may be needed.
Essentially, a new joint will be inserted so that you have a metal or plastic implant that works in the place of our damaged joint. Usually, once surgery is completed, you will be able to use the joint as normal with no pain.
In the hand, joints that can be replaced include:
- Finger joints
- Knuckle joints
- Wrist joints
Joint replacement surgery can be done in most cases, but not always.
Problems That Prevent Surgery
An artificial joint cannot be placed in certain circumstances, some of which can be resolved, others cannot. These include:
- Infection in the joint
- Damaged muscles and tendons that interact with the joint
- Other joint replacements that get in the way
- Poor bone quality
- Problems with the skin
If joint replacement surgery is not available for any of these reasons, then the problem can be treated in other manners, including steroid injections, oral anti-inflammatories, hand therapy, splinting, bone fusion surgery, arthritis surgery, and surgery to repair tendons.
Why Get Joint Replacement Surgery?
Obviously, when a joint has become damaged beyond repair, it can cause pain, loss of motion in the hand, deformity, and other problems. The problems can be bad enough that you will not be able to use your hand properly or you may be in pain every time you need to bend a finger. Joint replacement surgery can improve hand function and remove the source of pain.
Ensuring the Surgery Provides Good Results
Of course, you need to choose a good hand surgeon, but there are things you will need to do after hand replacement surgery to ensure you get the best results without complications.
- Always follow the directions of your surgeon and hand therapist. If they say not to do something, dont do it.
- Do not overdo anything or try to use your hand too soon. You could damage the joint replacement and put yourself in new pain.
- If something looks wrong with your hand, such as it is hot to the touch, red, very painful, or crooked, then contact your doctor immediately.
If you get a joint replacement, you should notice a marked difference as soon as the surgical incisions heal. However, you do need to take proper care of your hand to ensure the surgery has the best results, and you will need to discuss with your surgeon whether or not you should consider joint replacement surgery in the first place.