Hand Surgeon Questions Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hand surgery for RA - what to expect?

I need hand surgery on my right hand for rheumatoid arthritis. It's very bad. What will recovery be like? When can I use my hand again?

4 Answers

Hand surgery is rarely done. Ask your rheumatologist about it/surgery may help the appearance without helping the function. Get a second opinion for a board certified hand surgeon.
Hand surgery is rarely the appropriate treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Please be sure to consult a rheumatologist to explore non-surgical treatments.
It just depends on the surgery. Your doctor will have to answer that question!

Harrison Solomon, M.D.
Rheumatoid arthritis has in the past ten years had its disease course altered and modified by many drugs knows as DMARDs which act upon the immune system to suppress inflammation. However no drug to date an reverse joint or tendon destruction that has occurred . It is also a progressive disease that may seem controlled yet slowly still affects the joints, ligaments ans tendons of the hand despite medication. And each year there are newly diagnosed patients who may not even know the have RA or even one of the so called sero negative spondyloarthropathies. Recovery froma surgical procedure depends upon what procedure is done. Joint replacement, joint fusion, ligament reconstruction, tendon transfer, tendon repair, are some of the more common hand and wrist procedures. Each has its own unique circumstances but a very basic ballpark figure for reconstructive hand surgery is that is it is a 2 -3 month process involving surgery, splinting, and therapy of differing degrees and magnitudes and frequencies. Still for "recovery" it is different for a wrist vs a single finger vs multiple locations. Talk to your surgeon for the specifics with respect to what you are correcting or fixing and what you do.