Arthroplasty of the Digits and Wrist 

Arthritic wrist and finger joints that have become consistently painful can be fixed with arthroplasty (joint replacement). When the hands are affected by arthritis, even the smallest everyday tasks can become a big pain. And if your arthritis won’t respond to conservative treatment, arthroplasty can be a solution. This procedure can replace the joints in your wrists and most of your fingers to relieve pain and restore function. 

Conditions Treated 

Finger and wrist joint replacement is typically used to relieve pain caused by these various forms of arthritis: 

  • Osteoarthritis, which causes cartilage in the joints to degenerate over time, is the most commonly cited reason for patients to undergo arthroplasty. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease, can affect the hands. 
  • Arthritis caused by injuries accelerates the breakdown of joint cartilage with wear and tear. 

Procedure Details 

In any arthroplasty procedure, the joints affected by arthritis are carefully removed. Then prosthetics made of metal and plastic parts, which give the artificial joints stability and smooth, painless movement, are attached to the bones. 

Arthroplasty of the digits is possible in the knuckle and middle joints of the fingers, as they are large enough to accommodate prostheses. Because the joints in the fingertips are so small and the thumbs experience high lateral forces, joint fusion is typically performed instead of arthroplasty in these digits. 

Wrist arthroplasty may also require the first row of carpal bones to be removed in order to accommodate the prosthetic joint, which is then connected to the remaining carpal bones. 

What to Expect 

Arthroplasty of the digits or wrist can be performed on an outpatient basis, and patients can expect to undergo physical therapy shortly afterward. As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks to be aware of, such as: 

  • Loosening or damaging of prosthetics 
  • Infection 
  • Bleeding 
  • Hematoma (blood clots) 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Injured blood vessels 


Pain relief typically comes quickly after arthroplasty of the digits or wrist, and each patient’s recovery period will vary based on the nature of their procedure. The prosthetic joint can restore roughly half of the range of motion of the original joint, and it should last for 10 or more years before a revision surgery would be needed. 

Tampa General Hospital’s board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons use cutting-edge technology to achieve world-class results for patients undergoing arthroplasty of the digits or wrist.