What you need to know about hand joint replacement

Considering hand joint replacement? Here’s what you should know

In modern medicine, significant advancements have been made to alleviate pain in the joints of the hand. In joint replacement surgery, the affected bone and supporting structures surrounding the joint are replaced with artificial implants that allow for a similar type of motion. Different materials are used for these synthetic parts. You should discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of each type of replacement joint before you decide to move forward with surgery. The goal of hand joint surgery is to restore your mobility, alleviate pain in the hand, and renew the alignment of the joints.

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What causes pain in the joints?

Healthy joints have articular cartilage at the end of the bones where they meet, which acts as a cushion. The smooth surface makes it easier for one bone to slide against the other, and friction is reduced in the joint by a thin layer of fluid called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid acts as a lubricant, keeping the joint’s motion smooth and painless. When the cartilage wears down from heavy use or a medical complication and effects the synovial fluid, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. The result is usually stiffness in the joints with significant pain and is diagnosed as arthritis. To restore mobility and reduce pain, doctors usually recommend surgery for this common medical condition.

After surgery

Therapy is a crucial factor when it comes to recovering post-surgery, and requires a trained professional who understands how to restore mobility of the hands. An experienced therapist is able to help you perform exercises that aid in the rehabilitation of fine-motor skills. Physical therapy usually doesn’t begin until after your hands have had time to heal, and you may have to participate in these treatment sessions for several months after your surgery to regain full range of motion. You can expect to perform activities that build finger strength, flexibility, and accuracy, and you will be given important exercises to practice at home as you go about your daily activities. To maximise your recovery, listen to the advice of the surgeon and therapist, and do exactly as you are directed. If you experience any complications at home, don?t hesitate to contact your doctor and seek medical assistance.

Risks from hand joint replacement

Like all medical procedures, there are some risks involved that should be fully understood before scheduling surgery. Talk to your doctor and be sure to ask any questions about the procedure, and steps that should be taken afterwards. Sometimes the replacement joints can loosen, and another surgery is required to reestablish function. Infection is a risk for all surgeries, so be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions when it comes to maintaining good sanitation for surgical wounds. Unfortunately, this procedure does not have a 100-percent success rate, and you may experience stiffness and pain in the joint if the replacement fails. Take your time recovering, so you don’t dislocate the new joint before it has time to fully heal.

Considering any type of surgery can be stressful, however, with a medical doctor and trained physical therapist on your side, pre and post-op procedures can be made easier. In the end, you know your own body and should pay close attention to any warning signs throughout the entire process. If drainage and heat at the surgical site occur or you feel any malaise and experience a fever, call the doctor right away since these are symptoms of infection. For most people suffering from severe arthritis of the hands, the relief brought by joint surgery is enough to outweigh any potential issue that may arise during or after surgery.