What are some alternative procedures besides surgery to replace a joint for arthritis?
- Joint injections (steroid preparations are used most commonly)
- Oral medications (such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines)
- Hand therapy exercises and protective splints
- Surgery to fuse bones together – called “arthrodesis” – which relieves pain by eliminating motion between damaged joint surfaces
- Surgery to remove arthritic surfaces and/or bone (resection arthroplasty)
- Surgery on tendons or ligaments to repair related joint injuries
What are the benefits of this surgery?
Artificial joints may help:
What are the risks of this type of surgery?
- Reduce joint pain.
- Restore or maintain joint motion.
- Improve the look and alignment of the joint(s).
- Improve overall hand function.
- Implant loosening, fracture or wear that occurs over time and which may require subsequent surgery to repair or replace the damaged parts
- Joint stiffness or pain, if the procedure or implant fails
- Dislocation of the artificial joint
- Damage to vessels, nerves or other structures in the region of the surgery
Is therapy needed after surgery?
Yes, therapy supervised by a trained hand therapist is almost always required after any type of replacement surgery, usually for several months. Special splints are generally used depending on which joint was replaced and how the surgery was done (see Figure 2).
How can you ensure the best results after your surgery?
(c) 2007 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Developed by the ASSH Public Education Committee
- Follow your surgeon’s and therapist’s directions carefully; excessive use or “overdoing it” with your hand can damage the new joint(s).
- Be sure to call your surgeon if you experience a sudden increase in pain or swelling, or if your hand or wrist becomes red, hot, painful or crooked.
- Call your surgeon or therapist if you have specific questions about your new joint(s).