Joint Replacements for the Hand

By Deatra Clark, OT

Joint Replacements for the Hand

By: Deatra Clark, OTR/L, CHT

Joint replacements for the hand were first developed by Alfred Swanson M.D. in 1962.
This procedure is most commonly used for patients with rheumatoid arthritis but, can also be used with degenerative process or post traumatic injury. A silicone implant is used that is a flexible hinge that acts as a spacer in the joint.

The procedure is described as a bone resection + implant + encapsulation = joint function. The surgeon removes the diseased bone of the joint, inserts the implant, and reconstructs the ligaments and tendons around the joint and the body builds scar around the implant. The implant has received wide acceptance as the preferred method for reconstruction of finger joints.

As humans we put many demands on the joints of our hands. We need stability to hold onto our hair brush, we need mobility to tie our shoes, and we don’t want to live in daily pain. Joint replacements for the hand can provide both the stability and mobility needed for daily function and also be pain free.

The rehabilitation process for both the MP and the PIP joints of the hand can take up to three months. The patient wears a dynamic splint on the hand for eight to ten weeks. A dynamic splint is a splint that has moving parts which allow the joint to be exercised hourly. A static or still splint is provided for night use. Occupational therapy works with the patient to achieve a balance at the replaced joint of stability and mobility through splinting and exercise.

Following a joint replacement education in joint protection techniques is critical. Joint protection can also help prevent needing a joint replacement. These techniques include:

  1. 1)  Maintaining muscle strength and joint range of motion.
  2. 2)  Working to avoid positions of deformity.
  3. 3)  Always use the strongest joint for the job.
  4. 4)  Avoid holding your hands in the same position for a long time.

JOI Rehab

Whether you are suffering from hand issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!

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