Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons

Finger Joint Replacement

Finger joint replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, is most commonly recommended as an arthritis treatment that has caused significant joint damage in the fingers. The most common types of arthritis to occur in the hands are rheumatoid arthritis, which is most common at the knuckle at the base of the finger, and osteoarthritis, which most typically occurs in the knuckle joints.

When is Joint Replacement Needed in the Fingers?

When arthritis progresses enough, deformities of the finger are more common, and a crooked finger can be expected. To better help patients who may need finger joint replacement, we’ve outlined the operation and detailed when a person can expect that recommendation.

Arthritis in the finger joint is usually approached with conservative, non-surgical treatments, due to the fact that we don’t walk on our hands and most people can manage the symptoms with simple treatments. The primary treatment approach for finger arthritis includes:

  • joint supplements
  • joint injections
  • oral medications
  • heat treatments
  • hand exercises

If the conservative treatments don’t provide sufficient relief, surgery may be recommended.

An individual's crooked fingers as they hold up their hand.

Benefits of Finger Joint Replacement

Finger joint replacement is usually reserved for older patients who do not perform heavy labor activities or those for whom simpler treatments haven’t worked. The reason for the surgery usually limited to older patients is that artificial joints may wear out or loosen over time, making them less appropriate for younger and more active patients.

While finger joint procedures aren’t the first line of treatment, they do provide benefits for patients suffering from arthritis in their hands and fingers:

  • improved hand and finger function
  • better alignment of the hand and finger bones
  • joint motion restoration
  • reduced pain in the finger joint
A patient consulting their doctor.

Finger Joint Replacement Surgery Outline

There are two types of finger joint replacement surgery:

  • Proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint replacement: performed on the middle portion of the finger, between the knuckle and fingernail, and is commonly recommended for osteoarthritis
  • Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint replacement: in this surgery, the surgeon replaces the joint through the knuckle and is often used for rheumatoid arthritis.

Before the Surgery

Prior to the scheduled day of the surgery, your doctor will examine your overall health to ensure the procedure can be performed. They may order blood tests, ask you to stop taking certain medications, like blood thinners, and ask you to stop smoking if you do. You’ll also be ordered not to drink or eat anything after midnight on the day of the surgery and told to avoid alcohol twenty-four hours before.

The Finger Joint Operation

The finger joint replacement surgery requires an incision made in the finger and may require repositioning or splitting of a tendon to access the joint. The surgeon will then cut the ends of the affected finger bone to remove it before replacing it with an artificial joint. Before sealing the incision, the surgeon will fix the split tendon and stitch the incision together before placing a cast over the surgical site.

Post-Surgery Recovery

After the surgery, the care team will show you hand exercises to help restore mobility and reduce swelling. Most patients can go home on the day of the operation, but will need help to get home and someone to stay with you for the first twenty-four hours. It’s important to keep the affected hand elevated as much as possible and swelling is expected following the surgery.

Make an Appointment with our Orthopedic Surgeons

We at Proliance Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons strive to help our patients achieve a return to normal activity through compassionate and exceptional care using evidence-based medicine in a patient-friendly environment. We are committed to bringing you a high standard of care that is patient-focused, with the goal of improving your quality of life.