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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Finger and Hand Surgeries - Topic Overview

There are several surgeries to correct joint problems in the hand caused by rheumatoid arthritis, including:

  • Carpal tunnel release, which involves releasing or cutting a ligament in the wrist to relieve pressure on a nerve that runs through the middle of the wrist and supplies feeling to the hand (median nerve).
  • Tendon release, which may be used to treat abnormal bending of fingers (flexion contractures).
  • Tendon repair, which may be used to repair or reattach a tendon.
  • Synovectomy (removal of inflamed tissue or synovium), which can ease pain. It is often combined with other surgical procedures. It may also be done to reduce the risk of tendon damage when inflammation of the tissue that lines the joints (synovium) is affecting the tendons. The effect on long-term joint damage is unclear.
  • Joint resurfacing, a procedure that replaces damaged joint surfaces in the fingers with plastic or metal-and-plastic coverings. This can restore more normal finger alignment, ease pain, and improve function.
  • Total resection arthroplasty, in which the ends of the joint bones are removed and replaced with metal and/or plastic components.
  • Arthrodesis, a procedure in which the joints are permanently fused together. This procedure severely limits motion, but it usually relieves pain.

If surgery is needed on the wrist and fingers, the wrist is usually done first. The position of tendons and other tissues in the wrist determines the balance of the finger tendons. If several surgeries are needed on the same hand, they may all be done at once.

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The main goal of surgery is to relieve pain and restore some minimal function that will allow you to continue doing such basic activities as eating, bathing, and dressing.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 05, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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