Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


My 73-year old mother is going to have three of the knuckles in her arthritic hand replaced. She's pretty limited in motion right now so I can imagine she'll be much better off after the joint replacement. How close to normal will she get?


The joint implants used to replace worn out joints from osteoarthritis or destroyed joints from rheumatoid arthritis come pretty close to normal. Some of the newer implants are designed to start in a small amount of flexion. This preflexed design holds the MCP joints (knuckles) in a natural resting position.

Studies show that motion is similar although not exactly the same after hand joint arthroplasty. The patient ends up with the same overall total range of motion compared to the other hand. Sometimes the tip of the finger moves first before the other joints in the finger.

Patients aren't likely to notice this on a day-to-day basis. In fact it's possible that this slight change in motion will work to the patient's advantage when it comes to grasping objects or opening and closing the hand.

Long-term results are a bit sketchy. More research is needed in this area.

Bassem Elhassan, MD, et al. Experimental Investigation of Finger Dynamics Before and After Metacarpophalangeal Joint Arthroplasty. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. February 2006. Vol. 31 A. No. 2. Pp. 228-235.

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