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Hand surgery for arthritis offers targeted solutions to relieve pain, improve joint function and enhance your ability to perform daily tasks.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the joints, leading to symptoms like pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion. It’s not a single disease but rather a term that covers over 100 different types of joint diseases and conditions, each with its own set of symptoms, causes and treatments.

The Most Common Types of Arthritis Include:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time, leading to pain, swelling and reduced joint flexibility.
  • Inflammatory Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a prime example of this category. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain. This type of arthritis can affect other systems of the body as well.
  • Post-traumatic Arthritis: This form of arthritis develops following an injury to a joint. For example, a broken bone near a joint may trigger this type of arthritis.
  • Septic Arthritis: Also known as infectious arthritis, this type is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It’s less common but can be severe if not treated promptly.

What Is the Main Cause of Arthritis?

There is no single leading cause of arthritis, as it is a complex condition with various types. However, factors like age, family history and lifestyle can increase your risk of developing arthritis. For example, osteoarthritis is often linked to wear and tear on the joints over time, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Other factors like injuries, infections and underlying medical conditions can also contribute to the development of arthritis.

Hand Arthritis

Arthritis affects millions of people, causing joint pain and limiting mobility. When it comes to your hands, this degenerative joint condition can be particularly debilitating. You might find it challenging to perform even the simplest tasks like opening a jar or typing. If you’re experiencing this, you’re not alone, and there are options to alleviate your symptoms.

How to Treat Hand Arthritis

While there’s no cure for most types of arthritis, various treatments can manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. These range from medications and physical therapy to surgical interventions.

Hand Surgery Options for Arthritis

Surgical options to treat arthritis of the hands range from joint reconstruction and joint fusion to joint realignment and partial or total joint replacement. The surgical technique will depend on the type of arthritis you have and its severity.

Who Are Good Candidates for Hand Arthritis Surgery?

If you’ve tried more conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy without success, surgery might be the next step.

Good candidates for hand arthritis surgery often experience the following:

  • Severe pain that interferes with daily activities
  • Loss of mobility or function in the hand
  • Structural damage to the joint, confirmed by imaging tests

Preparing for Hand Arthritis Surgery

Before the big day, you’ll undergo a series of tests to assess your overall health and the health of the joints in your hands. You may also need to stop taking certain medications. Discuss all your current medications and supplements with Dr. Sharma during your consultation at Plastic Surgery Austin.

Hand Surgery Techniques for Arthritis

Each of these surgical options has its own set of benefits and risks. If you’re considering hand surgery to treat your arthritis, schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharma at Plastic Surgery Austin to receive personalized advice tailored to your condition.

Joint Reconstruction

What It Addresses:

Joint reconstruction is often recommended for osteoarthritis and post-traumatic arthritis. In these conditions, the cartilage that cushions the joint wears down, causing pain and reducing mobility.

How It’s Done:

In joint reconstruction surgery, damaged parts of the joint are removed or reshaped to alleviate pain and improve function. Dr. Sharma may remove bone spurs or reposition bones to allow for smoother joint movement.

Local or general anesthesia may be administered, and the procedure may be performed as an outpatient surgery, depending on the severity of your condition.

Joint Fusion

What It Addresses:

Joint fusion is commonly used for treating severe arthritis where the joint is significantly damaged. This technique is often reserved for smaller joints in the hand and wrist, especially when other treatments have failed.

How It’s Done:

In this procedure, the bones forming the joint are fused together, essentially making them one solid bone. This eliminates the ability of the bones to move independently, preventing painful movement.

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and may require a hospital stay.

Joint Realignment

What It Addresses:

Joint realignment is suitable for conditions like osteoarthritis where uneven weight distribution across the joint has led to wear and tear. This technique aims to correct the alignment to reduce hand pain and improve function.

How It’s Done:

During the surgery, the joint is realigned to distribute weight and stress more evenly. This may involve shifting the position of the bones or using pins, screws or plates to hold them in place.

Local or general anesthesia is used, and the procedure may be done on an outpatient basis.

Joint Replacement

What It Addresses:

Joint replacement is often the last resort for severe arthritis conditions, including advanced osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, where the joint is severely damaged or deformed.

How It’s Done:

In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic made of metal, plastic or ceramic materials.

Recovery From Hand Arthritis Surgery

Caring for Your Bandages and Incisions Post-surgery

After your procedure, your hand will be securely wrapped in sterile gauze. To aid in healing, it’s vital to keep this gauze clean and dry. If showering is necessary, cover your hand and wrist with a plastic bag to prevent the bandages from becoming wet.

Three days following your surgery, you can take off the gauze and carefully clean the incision using warm water and soap. Refrain from immersing your hand in water until the stitches have been taken out. As time passes, your skin will heal, and any scarring will gradually become less noticeable.

Recommended Hand Position During Recovery

For optimal recovery, aim to keep your hand and wrist elevated above your heart level as frequently as you can. To assist you in maintaining this position, we’ll provide you with a support pillow. Place your arm on this pillow so that your forearm is in a vertical position, resembling a hand raised to ask a question. To avoid stiffness, make sure to move your shoulder and elbow occasionally.

Watch for Signs of Infection

Although infections are uncommon, stay vigilant for signs such as a fever, escalating pain or redness that extends beyond the incision area. Should you notice any of these symptoms, get in touch with Dr. Sharma’s office right away.

Follow-Up Visits and How to Contact Us

Your initial post-operative appointment will be scheduled approximately two weeks after your surgery. A standard follow-up with Dr. Sharma usually occurs six weeks after the surgery.

Remember, healing rates can vary from person to person. If you have any questions or concerns about your healing process, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Sharma’s office at Plastic Surgery Austin. We will supply you with specific contact details.

Downtime/Time Off Work

Expect to take two to six weeks off work, depending on the complexity of your surgery and the nature of your job.

Pain Management

To alleviate pain, over-the-counter options like Tylenol and ibuprofen are often recommended. For more severe discomfort, you might be prescribed potent medications such as Norco, Percocet or codeine-enhanced Tylenol. You may safely switch between narcotics and ibuprofen for effective pain control. However, if you opt for this approach, steer clear of extra acetaminophen and refrain from driving or using heavy equipment.

Recommended Therapy After Hand Arthritis Surgery

Physical therapy is often recommended to improve function and strength after hand surgery. You’ll learn exercises and techniques tailored to your needs.

What Results Can I Expect From Hand Arthritis Surgery

While results vary, many patients experience significant pain relief and improved hand function. However, it may take several months to realize the full benefits of the surgery.

How Much Does Hand Arthritis Surgery Cost?

The cost can vary widely depending on the type of surgery, the surgeon’s experience and geographic location. Health insurance may cover part of the cost. For a more accurate estimate, schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharma at Plastic Surgery Austin.

Ready for Relief From Hand Arthritis? Contact Plastic Surgery Austin Today!

If you’re tired of living with hand pain and limited mobility, it’s time to take action. Hand surgery for arthritis can alleviate painful symptoms and restore your quality of life.

Contact Plastic Surgery Austin today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharma. He will help you explore your treatment options and whether surgery is the ideal way to get you back to living your life to the fullest.

Call us at 512-838-3658 or connect with us online now!


Contact our office to schedule a private consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Sanjay K. Sharma, M.D., F.A.C.S.