Understanding your discomfort
Degenerative, Rheumatoid and Traumatic are the most common types of arthritis. To help understand which type you have your history along with an exam, X-rays, and sometimes lab tests are required to help clarify.
Most cases of arthritis with the exception of traumatic arthritis, begin first with soft tissue destruction and ligament laxity around the joint. This allows for abnormal motion between the bones leading to breakdown of the joint cartilage and pain.
One common area that Degenerative arthritis affects is the joint at the base of the thumb. As this type progresses, grasping objects may become very difficult and pain is common.
Potential roads to pain relief
As is typical in the surgical disciplines, conservative measures are usually employed prior to the recommendation of a surgical procedure. These measures consist of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and at times the administration of a steroid injection into a certain joint. It should be understood that these measures do not cure the disease. Rather, they can relieve pain for a time.
There are many surgical options as the number of joints affected are likewise many. Also the extent to which the joint is affected by the arthritic process plays a role in the choice of a specific procedure. While not an inclusive list, the categories of procedures are excisional (removal of bone(s)), Fusion of bones (making two or more bones become one) and arthroplasties (joint replacements).
What you can expect after treatment
Due to the large number of surgical options, your recovery will be described at the time of your consultation.
Immobilization is common, particularly after fusions to allow the bones to heal. Splinting and hand therapy is also common after surgery for arthritis. Time to return to work is variable depending on what you are having performed.
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