The metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints are located within the knuckles of the fingers. Metacarpophalangeal joint arthroplasty is a procedure performed to treat rheumatoid arthritis of the MCP joints. Also known as joint replacement, arthroplasty involves removing the damaged joints and tissue, and replacing them with synthetic materials or artificial implants. Although MCP joint arthroplasty is a complex procedure often used as a last resort for treating rheumatoid arthritis, it is often very successful, with results lasting for several years.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which causes the body to attack its own healthy tissue. The immune system attacks the lining (membrane) of the joints, causing them to hurt, stiffen and swell. Rheumatoid arthritis, which can affect any joint, often affects those in the fingers.
Benefits of Metacarpophalangeal Joint Arthroplasty
When the lining of the joints within the knuckles becomes swollen and inflamed, the result can be pain, swelling, weakness and loss of motion that interfere with performing everyday activities. The physical deformities caused by rheumatoid arthritis can make grasping and pinching nearly impossible. In severe cases, and when other treatment methods have failed, MCP joint arthroplasty may be recommended. Benefits of MCP joint arthroplasty include a reduction in pain, restoration of motion and mobility, and overall improvement in the function of the hand.
The Metacarpophalangeal Joint Arthroplasty Procedure
During MCP joint arthroplasty, the abnormal joints and surrounding tissue are surgically removed. New parts made of silicone or metal are inserted in place of the old joints; these new joints will move easily, causing little or no pain. After surgery, the hand is usually placed in a splint or cast to promote healing. After a recovery period, patients often need physical therapy to restore strength and function to the fingers.
The goal of MCP joint arthroplasty is to improve the function and longevity of the replaced joint. Arthroplasty has been used to treat MCP joint arthritis for many years, and has a high long-term success rate.