Our hands play a pivotal role in practically everything we do. For people living in our neighborhood, the Chicago North-West Suburbs, the function of our hands is extremely important. Unfortunately, some conditions, like arthritis, require surgery to relieve pain and restore the function of our hands. This is why Dr. Michele Y. Yoon often performs hand surgery for patients who suffer from arthritis.
Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to diseases and conditions that cause joint damage. It is often caused by inflammation and deterioration of cartilage, the pliable connective tissue that enables joint surfaces to glide against each other without friction.
Arthritis can develop anywhere in the body. One of the most common places is in the hands. The main symptom of arthritis in the hands is pain, and it can be severe enough to interfere with sleep and disrupt everyday activities. The loss of flexibility can also render affected fingers immobile. To treat arthritis, doctors first prescribe conservative treatment options, such as medication. However, surgery can be an effective way to treat advanced arthritis in the hand’s joints, especially when other treatment options have failed.
Hand Surgery for Arthritis
Hand surgery helps in the management of arthritis by removing some of the damaged cartilage, freeing up the joint and allowing for normal function to return. Sometimes, surgeons reshape the remaining bone and cartilage to permit smooth movement of the joint. Other times, they replace these tissues with artificial implants.
Hand surgery has two goals. First, it aims to alleviate pain by removing damaged tissue. Second, it seeks to restore the functionality of the affected joint. Ideally, surgery would permit both of these goals. However, in some cases, doctors need to sacrifice some of the joint mobility to give the patient relief from discomfort. Most surgical procedures specialize in achieving one or the other.
For joints that need pain relief more than mobility, doctors usually recommend arthrodesis. In this procedure, a surgeon fuses together the affected joint ends using mechanical implants, such as plates and screws. The fusion eliminates the ability of the bones in the joint to rub against each other, so the procedure is highly effective at stopping pain and inflammation at the site.
The joint becomes unable to bend since the binding prevents movement. Despite the lack of motion, many patients can adapt to the loss of flexibility. Doctors recommend arthrodesis for joints that do not require much flexibility, such as the last joint in each finger. Arthrodesis is usually not recommended for joints that require flexibility, such as the ones at the base of each finger.
Another surgical method involves the replacement of different parts of the joint with artificial materials, most often silicone rubber. The surgeon will remove the inflamed cartilage and the underlying bone before attaching the implant in the joint. The implant permits normal joint movement while simultaneously removing the source of the pain.
An emerging approach to hand surgery involves the use of the arthroscope, a pencil-sized instrument that allows doctors to see and perform surgery on the internal structures of joints through tiny incisions. Both arthroplasty and arthrodesis can be performed arthroscopically for most patients.
Hand Surgery in the Chicago North-West Suburbs
Surgery on the joints of the hand can be tricky. This is why it’s important to have a well-experienced surgeon perform any procedure on your hands.
Dr. Michele Y. Yoon specializes in diagnosing and treating several conditions that affect the hands and wrists. She has experience in combining surgical and nonsurgical interventions and will get an integrated treatment plan in place that addresses all your needs.
For inquiries or to make an appointment, call us at (847) 957-4183. You may also request an appointment online.