Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and destruction of the ligaments and tendon that hold the joints together. In the hand, RA can damage cartilage and bone, resulting in pain, swelling, and deformity in the wrist and fingers.
Patients may experience collapse of the fingers, the inability to straighten the finger because of a ruptured tendon, and/or the protrusion or collapse of the wrist bones. RA can also cause pressure on the nerves or large nodules protruding from joints in the hand and wrist.
The exact cause of RA is not known. It affects about 1% of the population, women more often than men.
Treatment of rheumatoid hand arthritis involves an integrated medical approach that includes the primary care physician, a rheumatologist, a reconstructive surgeon, and therapists. Medication, including a wide variety of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory, cortisone-like medications, can be prescribed to decrease inflammation and pain. Splints, and exercises may be included as part of the treatment to help maximize hand function and protect joints and tendons. However, when hand deformities lead to loss of the ability to grip, grasp, and pinch, and make it difficult to perform the activities of daily living surgical intervention is often necessary.
The purpose of surgery is to reduce pain, improve function, and repair damage caused by the disease. The procedures include tendon reconstructions, joint fusions, and joint replacements. Rheumatoid nodules may be surgically removed to improve appearance and comfort. Surgery may also be performed to remove inflamed tissue around the tendons or joints and prevent progression of the disease. Every patient is different and your reconstructive plastic surgeon with discuss with your needs and options with you.
Surgical procedures often require postoperative therapy. Recovery period varies, depending on the procedure. Your surgeon with explain what you can expect with your surgical procedure.
As with any surgical procedure there is a risk of infection. Your surgeon will discuss other possible complications at the time of your consultation.
To learn more about how you may benefit from rheumatoid hand arthritis treatment or to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons, please contact our Surrey office today.