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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New Knuckles and Straight Fingers: Metacarpal Phalangeal Joint Replacement Surgery.

My friend gave me before and shortly after photos of her friend Debbie Morris who just had her knuckles replaced in an operation called a metacarpal phalangeal joint replacement.  Debbie agreed to let me use them here so that others could see the successful results she has had. 

                                                            Before surgery
Here is her story:

"I decided to go ahead with the surgery, as my hand had become quite deformed and the pain was constant. The surgery took two and a half hours. My knuckles were replaced with little silicone joints, that are slotted into the finger joints. 
                                      After surgery

The outrigger (below) although it looks like a hindrance, is amazing. Within the week of using it, the movement in my fingers has improved. I am already doing finger exercises! The best thing of all is hardly any pain, other than normal post op, bruises etc. I am having my stitches out next Tuesday and then exercises will begin to reduce the scar as much as possible, as scarring can restrict movement.

                                After surgery. No splint

Here is a picture of outrigger, it's a splint in a sense with metal bits on connected to elastic. It helps prevent them drifting until the muscles are built up in your hands again, as it's the muscles that keep the implants in place. It also allows you to exercise the hand. After 3 months of physio and exercising regularly, I expect to see a massive improvement.
                                                        Hand With Outrigger

I have been told movement won't be as good as in a normal hand and it's questionable if I will be able to make a full fist, but I’m keeping an open mind, anything’s possible!  Recovery is all about listening and doing everything the physios say, they are the experts. For me I think it's the best decision I could have made."

Debbie said she is glad that we think photos are useful. She feels very proud of herself right now.

Gillian says "It gives us some hope for the future when you see results like that."  (I agree with that completely.)

Debbie said she will send another picture when she gets the stitches out so we will be able to see the whole story.
Congratulations Debbie!!









18 comments:

  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a truly incredible thing the surgeon did, replacing those RA-distorted knuckles! Thank you for posting this, Anet. And thank you and congratulations, Debbie! I'm very lucky--my RA hasn't ruined any of my joints yet, and perhaps never will. But it's comforting to know that this sort of replacement surgery is available.

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    1. Thank you Wren, I am still amazed at my new right hand, I am back doing everything I did before surgery, without the pain. I started driving again this week xx

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    2. It's encouraging to hear you are doing so well, and thanks again for sharing your story and pictures.

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    3. Thank you for doing this page to share with others. I will send in picture of my hand now, very soon. I hope it will give other people encouragement if they have to go through a similar operation. Debbie xx

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  2. I am glad you appreciate the look at a successful surgery. It's an eyeopener to see the difference, isn't it? Donna was happy to share it.

    The surgeon I saw for hands said that the age of the person didn't matter to him as well. I could be 150 and he would do it if it would help. That was good because I worry about ageism.
    Here's hoping your joints stay undamaged. It's getting less common to see severe damage now compared to the past.

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  3. I had the left knuckles replaced, awesome !! About to have the right ones done :( ;)

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    1. Well done allison, hope it goes well. I am considering my left ones now :-)

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  4. I hope it goes really well Allison. It will take a year I think before I get to the knuckles as my surgeon wants the wrists done first. I have the right wrist still to go.
    If you want me to add any of your pictures to the post so people can see yours you can send them to me. I'm anetto at gmail.com

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  5. Just had surgery today, am a bit scared and thinkn wat have I done!, your post has reassured me. Bernie 29

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  6. That's the reason Debbie shared her info with all of us. I hope yours ends up as well as hers did. It's in my future also.

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  7. I would love to email Debby and ask a few questions. I've had RA since I was a teen. I'm now 39 yr old mom of 3 with no time to spare. I need this done but have questions!!! I would like to ask someone who has had it done. I've had joint replacements done but so scared of this one. Anyone with advice? I've heard full recovery could take a year. Email me please! Hwoodinoregon@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Heather, So sorry you are at the stage of joint replacements, at such a young age. I have only had my knuckles done so can not compare it with other replacements. I just wanted you to know that recovery is 3 months, with plenty of OT. You will need full support for the first week with everything! After that it gets easier every day. It has made such a difference to my life, not only have I got straight fingers, I also have no pain and swelling around the knuckles. No one notices now, the scar is hardly noticeable. It is amazing! It still doesn't bend as much at the knuckles as I would of liked, but it is a full functioning hand. I wish you lots of luck xxx

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    2. Thank you Anet and Debby,
      I would so love to have straight hands. I feel like that's the first thing people see (besides my prednisone face. Lol). Can you make a fist and hold a small weight like 2 llbs

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  8. I'll pass your email on to Debbie, Heather. I'm interested too because I'm planning to have this surgery eventually. We'd be happy to hear about your experience too. There's nothing like hearing from people who know through experience. A year is a long time for recovery.

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  9. Hi Heather, I can't make a tight fist, but I can carry a 3kg sack of dog food with no problem. I can put cream on my face without poking myself in the eye or up my nose. And I will be wearing gloves this year instead of mittens lol. xxx

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  10. My Ortho made an off-hand remark about doing surgery on my hands a year ago; scared me as I am still able to use them for writing (my passion). They look similar to the before picture, except my joints have deteriorated.

    Thanks for thIs look into one person's experience. I'll have to do some research, it may be an option after all.

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    1. I hope that helps Ruthie. I saw an Ortho a few years after diagnosis. He was ready to fix everything then and I was shocked. I think the Rheumatologist wanted to let me know more about orthopedic surgery without weighing in on one side or the other.
      Now it's over 25 years later and I do feel it's time to go ahead. Debbie was very generous with her story. I'll be looking at it again myself

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