Question:My favorite aunt has rheumatoid arthritis pretty bad. I notice her fingers are twisted now. They don't even go straight anymore. I don't know how she even pulls the covers up at night or opens the refrigerator door. Isn't there anything that can be done to replace these joints?
Joint replacement or arthroplasty is possible. The goal is to relieve pain and restore motion and function. Patients who are limited in grip or pinch strength are often very pleased with the results. Even the change in appearance brings them great satisfaction.
If you haven't already asked your aunt about joint replacements, see if she would like you to help arrange a doctor's visit. Start with her family doctor first. Or if she is already in the care of a rheumatologist, make an appointment with him or her. It's likely she may be referred to a hand specialist if there is one in your area.
Help her get all the information she needs to make a decision. Having interested and involved family members can make the difference between suffering in silence and getting proper care.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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