COLUMBUS, Ga. — 1 in 5 people over age 18 has doctor-diagnosed arthritis or more than 50 million adults. Arthritis wears down the cartilage, giving the bones in certain joints nothing to cushion them so they rub together and cause a lot of pain. Doctors can replace these arthritic joints in the fingers as well as the knees and hips.
Dr. Sean Blake is the director of the Hand Center at St. Francis Orthopaedic Institute. He says arthritis can make common everyday tasks painful.
“Folding laundry, doing dishes, opening jars, shaking hands, opening the car door, turning the key. All those things are things people think they just have to deal with. It’s just aging. But actually, we can actually help them with some good relief of pain,” said Dr. Blake.
Those painful joints can be replaced.
“Most common spots that we’ll put joints in are what we call the Metatarsal Phalangea ljoints, your knuckles , or the middle knuckle which is the Proximal Interphalangeal Joint,” said Dr. Blake.
Only regional anesthesia is used for the surgery, paralyzing the arm for about 12 hours.
“We go on the back of the hand and make an incision, a Curvilinear incision so it’s curved so it actually doesn’t scar as much and we literally have to cut out the piece of bone.”
And insert the implant. The patient goes home the same day, wearing a splint. Physical therapy is required. Healing takes about 10 TO 12 weeks.