Disease states or trauma can damage the joints, bones, and soft tissue in our hands, thumb, and fingers. Arthritis of the hand is a common condition, especially in women, and it often affects the base of the thumb joint. Some of the general arthritic hand symptoms are joint pain, stiffness, warmth, immobilization, loss of range of motion, and inadequate blood flow. While there are over 100 forms of arthritis, the two primary types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
With osteoarthritis, wear and tear damages the cartilage in the joints and causes friction between the bones which rub together, which leads to painful swelling and inflammation. In most cases, osteoarthritis usually occurs in older individuals.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and like all other autoimmune-related conditions, it causes the cells in the body to attack itself. In the case of RA, it causes the body to attack the joints. The synovial tissue that lines the joints is the first to become inflamed and deteriorate. As the disease progresses, especially if left untreated, it can degenerate the cartilage and then the bone of the joints. Individuals with RA have severe stiffness and mobility issues from the disorder and their joints may begin to look deformed as RA advances.
Treating hand arthritic conditions early is the optimal method to alleviate or delay advanced conditions.
For OA, conservative treatment may include medication, injections, and splinting. The issue is, although these methods can mask symptoms for some time, it is not a permanent solution for treating hand arthritis. With RA, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or immunosuppressant drugs are usually prescribed and typically stave off the degenerative effects for some time, but again, depending on the severity, surgery may be necessary.
When the damage has progressed to the point that the surfaces will no longer work, a joint replacement (arthroplasty) or a fusion (arthrodesis) is usually recommended.1
Arthrodesis or joint fusion uses a plate and screws across the affected joint. Joint fusions remove the damaged areas of the joint and provide pain relief, but cause immobility.1
The goal of joint replacement is to provide pain relief and restore function. As with hip and knee replacements, there have been significant improvements in joint replacements in the hand and wrist. The replacement joints may be made of materials similar to those used in weight-bearing joints, such as ceramics or long-wearing metal and plastic parts, or may be softer silicone. The goal is to improve the function and longevity of the replaced joint.1
Orthopedic Center of Florida
The Orthopedic Center of Florida’s specialists understand that every hand, wrist and elbow condition presents a unique set of challenges and requires a comprehensive plan of care. If you suffer or experience arthritic conditions in your hand, such as basal joint osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis, know that all of these hand, wrist and elbow conditions can be treated efficiently by hand doctors. Orthopedic Center of Florida’s hand specialists will customize a plan that’s right for you and your lifestyle.
SANDRA B. COLLINS, M.D.
Orthopedic Surgeon of the Hand and Upper Extremities
Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Surgeon Specializing in Hand, Upper Extremity and Microvascular Surgery. Since moving to beautiful Fort Myers, Dr. Collins has focused her practice on reconstruction and rehabilitation of traumatic
injuries and arthritic conditions of the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow, nerve and tendon injuries, work related conditions, and congenital differences of the hand and upper extremity. She accepts patients of all ages, including children, and works closely with several area certified hand therapists.
Sandra Collins, M.D. received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, after which she worked at The Johns Hopkins University, performing microbiology research on retroviral diseases. She then attended University of Maryland Medical School and stayed in Baltimore to do her orthopedic residency at University of Maryland Medical System, which included achieving a certificate in Orthopaedic Traumatology from The Shock Trauma Center.
After completing a fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at Duke University Medical Center, a regional reimplantation center and level 1 trauma center, Dr. Sandra Collins moved to Virginia, where she served as Director of Hand Surgery at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Medical Center. She also served on orthopedic staff at the Level 1 trauma center and was a clinical instructor for the University of Virginia orthopedic residency program.
Sandra Collins, M.D. continues to focus her practice on reconstruction and rehabilitation of traumatic injuries and arthritic conditions. Dr. Collins looks forward to helping you regain the function of your hands and upper extremity.
For more information, please call 239-482-2663, or visit www.ocfla.net.
Orthopedic Center of Florida
239-482-2663 | www.ocfla.net
12670 Creekside Lane, Fort Myers, FL 33919
1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Ortho Info,
“Arthritis of the Hand,” 2013, firstname.lastname@example.org, Rosemont, IL.