Anatomy of the Hand
The hands are made up of 27 bones, which are grouped into carpals, metacarpals and phalanges. Each bone is separated by the articular cartilage, which helps in a smooth gliding movement of the fingers.
What is Arthritis of the Hand and Fingers?
Arthritis develops when the cartilage wears-out, resulting in pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints. It can affect any joint in the body, but the most commonly affected joints are the small joints of the fingers.
Finger joints are essential for many activities, and arthritis in this area can cause significant joint damage and deformity.
What is Artificial Finger Joint Replacement?
Artificial finger joint replacement is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of an arthritic or damaged finger joint and replacement with an artificial prosthesis.
Indications of Artificial Finger Joint Replacement
Artificial finger joint replacement is indicated for arthritis of the fingers. It is considered when other treatment options fail to relieve the pain and disability.
The surgery is usually reserved for older patients who do not perform heavy labor activities. Finger replacement implants are not appropriate in the following cases
- Younger, more active patients as the implants may loosen or wear out over time
- Poor skin or bone quality
- An active infection in the affected joint
- Damage of muscle or tendons
- Presence of other implants from prior surgeries that would block the insertion or movement of the new prosthetic
Artificial Finger Joint Replacement Procedure
Artificial finger joint replacement is performed under local or general anesthesia and usually takes about two hours to complete.
A cut on the back of the finger joint is made and the soft tissues are spread out to expose the joint. The bone ends that form the finger joint are cut to form a flat surface. Next, a small cutting tool called a burr is used to create an opening in the bones of the finger joint. Your surgeon will then shape and insert the prosthesis so that it fits snugly in both ends of the finger bone. Nearby ligaments are repositioned to wrap the joint for additional support and the soft tissues are stitched back. The finger is secured in a splint and bandaged.
Postoperative Care following Artificial Finger Joint Replacement
Following the surgery, the finger is splinted and bandaged. The splint will help keep the finger straight during the healing process. In some cases, your hand may be placed in an arm-length cast for about three weeks. You will have to keep your arm propped up to avoid throbbing and swelling. You will be prescribed medication to control the pain and discomfort. Avoid excessive use of your operated hand as it can damage the new joint(s). Physical therapy will also be advised to regain mobility and strength of the finger joint. You will have to visit your surgeon five to seven days after the surgery.
Risks and Complications of Artificial Finger Joint Replacement
As with any major surgery there are potential risks involved. Some of the risks and complications following artificial finger joint replacement include infection, damage to the blood vessels or nerves, loosening of the implants, wearing off of the implant, and failure of the procedure to relieve pain.
You should call your doctor if your finger becomes red, hot, painful or crooked, or you have sudden severe pain or swelling.