Treatment of Hand Arthritis

Posted 12/29/2017

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Hand arthritis comes in two general forms: one being osteoarthritis, which most people equate to the “wear and tear” arthritis. There is an increase in that in your hand as you age. It typically affects the tinier joints first, so we see osteoarthritis in the base of the thumb. The other kind of arthritis is rheumatoid, which is an autoimmune problem, and that has a very specific set of issues and treatment needs. Some people are surprised to find we can talk about treatment options for that as well.

Osteoarthritis is very common. We work to be as conservative as we can with our arthritis treatment, but ultimately some arthritis can only be fixed by surgery. Thumb arthritis, or basal joint arthritis, can cause the pain that you get when you grip or move your thumb or when you try to pick up a jar or something like that. Some patients are good candidates for a joint replacement surgery that is very simple and very successful for treating the condition.

For other types of arthritis, specifically joint arthritis in the fingers, there are options when we have exhausted other conservative treatment. This includes fusion of a joint or replacement with an artificial one.

Ultimately, patients who have a thumb joint replacement typically get back to doing everything they want to do. There may be a very minimal decrease in the grip strength, but in comparison, getting rid of almost debilitating pain is a huge win for patients. Replacing a badly arthritic joint can restore mobility to the finger, and sometimes restoring the mobility of one finger improves the function of the whole hand. 

Dr. Merrick is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in disorders of the hand and general plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery. His goal is to help every patient find solutions to their health and wellness concerns. Dr. Merrick has offices in Eau Claire, Cumberland, Hayward, Ladysmith, and Shell Lake.

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