A joint replacement is surgery to replace a damaged joint in your body with a new joint made out of plastic or metal. The new joint works the same as your natural joint. Common joint replacement surgeries include:
- Hip replacement
- Shoulder replacement
- Knee replacement
- Hand and wrist replacement
- Ankle replacement
- Finger joint replacement
In artificial joint replacement of the finger, a surgeon removes one or more of the joints in your finger and replaces them with an artificial joint. There are two finger joints that can be replaced:
- The PIP joint is the second joint from the end of your finger.
- The MP joint is your knuckle, the joint at the base of your finger.
Joint replacement is used when the joints in your fingers and hands are injured, damaged, or in a lot of pain due to an illness like arthritis. Joint replacement of the finger is most commonly done when your symptoms are severe or don’t get better with medicine or physical therapy.
Artificial joint replacement of the finger is a fairly safe surgery; however, all surgeries have risks. Some of these include:
- Implant wear and tear. Your artificial joint can get worn down over time, and it can also be damaged. If this happens, you might need to have surgery again to repair or replace the artificial finger joint.
- Infection. During surgery, your surgeon will make a cut in your finger to take out your joint and replace it with a metal or plastic one. This cut can get infected after surgery.
- Pain. If the implant does not work for you, you can have pain in your finger in the area where your doctor installed the artificial joint.
- Damage. Sometimes, the surgery can hurt the parts of your body around the joint that is being replaced, like blood vessels, nerves, and other structures.
Talk with your doctor about artificial joint replacement of the finger to make sure you understand the risks, benefits, and possible complications. . Alternatives to artificial joint replacement of the finger include medication, exercises, and injections.
Having your finger joint replaced with an artificial joint can have many benefits. Joint replacement of the finger may:
- Relieve pain caused by an injury or illness, such as arthritis
- Restore motion that was reduced by injury or illness, such as arthritis.
- Realign bones that may be out of alignment, making it hard or painful to use your hand.
Before surgery, your doctor will do a thorough examination and ask about your medical history. You may need blood tests to rule out anemia or blood clotting disorders. Your doctor will talk with you about any new medicines that you will need to take after surgery. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medicines you are currently taking, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs (such as allergy pills or cough syrup), inhalers, patches, vitamin supplements, and herbal remedies. You may need to stop taking some of these in the days before your surgery.
You will be asked to not eat or drink anything several hours before surgery. It is important to follow these instructions to avoid complications with the anesthesia. If you don’t follow these instructions, your surgery may have to be postponed.
The surgery will be done in an operating room at a hospital or surgery center.
- Your surgeon or an anesthesiologist [ann-ess-TEE-see-AH-loh-JIST] will give you anesthesia, a medicine to manage pain. You may have local anesthesia, which only numbs one part of your body, or general anesthesia, which numbs your entire body and makes you sleep through the surgery.
- Your surgeon will make a cut (incision) in the part of your finger near the affected joint. The damaged part of the bone will be taken out and the artificial finger joint will be fixed in place using metal or plastic screws.
- The surgeon will close the incision with sutures (stitches) and bandage your wound.
- If you had general anesthesia, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will rest until it is safe for you to be moved.
- The surgeon or care team will give you instructions on how to care for yourself at home.
After surgery, your doctor may recommend other treatments, including:
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy is a set of exercises, stretches, and other techniques to help you build strength and restore motion to your fingers, knuckles, and hand.
- Splinting. A splint is a tough, or stiff brace that holds your hand in the right position and protects it while it heals.