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Hand osteoarthritis: Local and surgical treatments

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Hands: Local and surgical treatments

 

The local and surgical treatments available for osteoarthritis of the hand are described below. However, the information provided in this section can in no way replace a consultation.

 

Only your doctor is able to prescribe a suitable treatment for your condition, which will effectively relieve your pain.

 

For more information on classes of drug, simply click on each one of them.

Hands: Corticosteroid injections

 
WHAT ARE THEY USED FOR?

This technique involves injecting an anti-inflammatory cortisone-based product directly into the joint. It is prescribed when the anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics have failed to relieve a flare-up.  

Injections may be prescribed for osteoarthritis when the anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics have failed to relieve a flare-up.

HOW DO THEY WORK?

This technique involves injecting an anti-inflammatory cortisone-based product directly into the joint. Cortisone has the advantage of acting on both pain and inflammation. In no case does it damage the cartilage; but some patients on seeing their painful symptoms regress or even disappear push their joint too hard at a time when it is still fragile.

The injection generally gets good results because the majority of the injected product remains in the joint. It acts on the pain and swelling within a few hours or days.

Its effect is prolonged, lasting from a few days to two months, depending on the case.  

 

WHAT PRECAUTIONS NEED TO BE TAKEN?

Injections are often feared but, in actual fact, they are not really worse than a blood test if your doctor is experienced. However, it is always possible and sometimes useful to use a local anaesthetic beforehand.  

Go easy on your joints for a few hours after the injection.

Sometimes the pain increases for several hours following the injection. These problems disappear spontaneously within a few hours and are not a contraindication for further injections.   

However, for pain that occurs 48 hours after the injection, you should go and see your doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of an infection. Although this risk is very low (1 in 50,000 injections) you need to be particularly vigilant.   

There is no need for a special diet: the passage in the blood of cortisone administered locally is far too low to lead to weight gain. However, if you have diabetes, this may cause a temporary imbalance.   

It is recommended not to perform more than three injections per year per joint for the simple reason that if the first three did not have a sufficient effect, it is unlikely that the fourth will be more effective.   

Keep track in a notebook or your health record of the date, the product used and the effectiveness of the injection.

 

Depending on your age, location of your damage and the wear of your cartilage, your doctor may suggest surgery.

 

There are two types of operations for rhizarthrosis (osteoarthritis of the base of the thumb):

 trapeziectomy: removal of the trapezium bone and the fitting of a trapeziometacarpal prosthesis.

For digital osteoarthritis: cosmetic realignment procedures are sometimes proposed.

 

For further information, take a look at the section: Treatments