Finger joint fusion and finger joint replacement: surgical treatments for arthritis of the fingers

Finger Joint Stabilisation and Joint Fusion Replacement Surgery may help if you suffer from painful and swollen fingers caused by arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition in which your joints become inflamed causing pain and stiffness which can limit your joint movement. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Many times, the fingers are affected, which can limit your hand movements and cause hand deformities and pain. When the symptoms are severe enough, arthritis surgery may be needed. The two commonly performed arthritis surgeries are joint fusion surgery and joint replacement surgery. In joint fusion surgery, Dr. Mark fuses the bones together canceling out the affected joint, while in replacement surgery, he will use a prosthesis to replace the affected finger joint.

Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand, is one of the best plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the country. He specializes in hand surgery and treating hand disorders. Dr Mark offers evaluation and treatment for hand arthritis, which includes fusion surgery and finger joint replacement surgery.

arthritis in fingers nz - joint fusion surgery NZ hand surgeon Auckland

What causes Arthritis?

Arthritis means joint inflammation, and there are many causes of this condition that can include infections, autoimmune diseases, and degenerative diseases. The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis develops with age due to wear and tear of the cartilage covering the joint surface. Cartilage is the slippery tissue at the end of each bone, and it reduces friction in the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which your own immune cells attack the joints (the synovium to be specific), causing joint inflammation and swelling. Both diseases can cause severe pain, joint deformity, and may become debilitating.

Arthritis commonly affects the joints of the hand and fingers, such as the joints forming your knuckle (metacarpophalangeal joints or MCPs), and those in your fingers (proximal and distal interphalangeal joints or PIPs and DIPs).

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis depend on the degree of joint damage. These symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness and limited movement
  • Redness

arthritis in fingers nz - Joint Fusion Surgery Dr Mark Gittos Hand Surgeon NZ

What is hand arthritis surgery?

When your finger joints become severely damaged by arthritis and start causing you unbearable pain and limited joint motion, surgery might be your best option. Surgical treatment for hand joint arthritis includes joint fusion and joint replacement:

  • Joint fusion: When arthritis becomes severe enough, the two bone surfaces might start rubbing on each other, which causes even more damage, pain, and deformity of the fingers and hands. In such cases, Dr. Mark might choose to fuse the two ends of the bones forming the joint, which essentially cancels the latter. Finger joint fusion is done using special metallic pins or plates to attach the bone ends to each other. Alternatively, Dr. Mark might fuse the joint using a bone graft, where a piece of bone is taken from another site in your body and inserted into the joint being treated to make it fuse. Joint fusion is commonly used to treat the distal interphalangeal joints (DIPs). By fusing the joint, there will be no more friction and rubbing, and this will stabilize the joint, prevent further deformity, and relieve pain.
  • Joint replacement: Dr. Mark also offers finger joint replacement to treat joints affected by arthritis. During surgery, Dr. Mark will excise the affected joint and replace it with a prosthesis that’s made of metal and plastic. You can imaging the prosthesis as a hinge that will replace your finger joint. Surgery will relieve your pain and restore your normal finger movement.

These surgeries are usually done under local or regional anesthesia, which means that you will be awake during surgery, but won’t feel any pain in your hand.

Who should get hand arthritis surgery?

Joint fusion and joint replacement are reserved for those with severe debilitating arthritis in their hand and finger joints that’s causing unbearable pain, joint deformity, instability, and limited motion. Your doctor will first try conservative therapy, which includes rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, splinting, steroid injections, and physiotherapy. When these methods fail, surgery might be the only choice. A hand surgeon, like Dr. Mark, will assess your condition and determine if you are a good candidate for surgery.

What to expect during recovery after finger joint fusion?

After surgery, you can expect some bruising, swelling, and pain at the site of operation. You will probably be wearing a cast for a few weeks to stabalize your hand. Dr. Mark will tell you when you can come back in to have your stitches removed (if they are not resorbable). You will be prescribed pain medications to relieve your pain and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

You will need a few weeks to recover and regain the function of your hand and fingers. These will probably include some physiotherapy sessions to aid the healing process.

Arthritis can be a debilitating disease, causing pain and joint deformity. It commonly affects the fingers and the hand which may limit their function. Fortunately, surgical treatment can be useful in managing severe arthritis that fails conventional treatment. Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand, offers finger joint replacement and joint fusion to treat arthritis. He is a plastic surgeon that specializes in hand surgery and cosmetic surgery. Call us today to set up an appointment and get a full evaluation by Dr. Mark or to learn more about your condition.

Complications and Risks of Joint Fusion Surgery

Hand surgery incurs risks and complications like all invasive surgery. Dr Gittos will make you aware of potential complications during your consultation. This includes anaesthesia risks, bleeding (Hematoma), infection, wound healing, deep vein thrombosis, scarring and numbness. Always stay informed and healthy, do NOT smoke before or after your procedure and read & understand your risks of surgery.

Medical Sources for Further Reading

Finding a Finger Surgeon in Auckland

For many men & women in New Zealand suffering from hand or finger pain, having hand surgery is a life-changing experience. There are many qualified hand experts and plastic surgeons, but it is always best to find one who is experienced in hand and finger surgery procedures. Find an experienced surgeon who you feel comfortable with and have a look at their online reviews to find out what their past patients say. Consider getting a second opinion.

Why Choose Dr Mark Gittos?

Dr. Mark Gittos is a plastic surgeon in Auckland, New Zealand who has extensive experience in treating fingers and hands. Call us to book an appointment or to learn more about the services we offer.Dr Gittos has a current FRACS membership and significant hand and finger surgery experience.

About Dr Mark Gittos FRACS (Plast) – New Zealand Plastic Surgeon 

Practice locations in Herne Bay Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty – Kerikeri, Whangarei, New Plymouth & Tauranga

Dr Mark Gittos is a leading Specialist Plastic Surgeon and operates a practice in Herne Bay, Auckland and in the UK. The practice focuses on both surgical and non-surgical procedures, each designed to help restore, improve or change a physical characteristic or problem. The first step in every case is to talk through your personal requirements and explore all the options, before deciding on the most effective solution.

Dr Mark Gittos offers high quality, natural-looking cosmetic surgery results and is highly experienced in BreastBody and Face Surgery having performed over 4000 Surgeries in the last 26 years.  With worldwide expertise Dr Gittos is an expert in breast, face and body surgery for men & women. 

Naturally, before any treatment is begun, we will explain clearly the advantages and risk factors; so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Visit the practice to find out more.


Please NOTE: Dr Gittos only performs surgery on non-smoker patients with a BMI less than 30. To check your BMI please visit the NZ Heart Foundation website. For help giving up smoking before surgery visit the Smoke Free website

Do your Research

What to Bring to your Plastic Surgeon Consultation

  • Bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices
  • Take lots of notes and read the documents provided thoroughly
  • Dress in simple clothes as you may need to undress for examination
  • Bring your medical referral and any relevant medical documents or test results

Book your Initial Surgery Consultation

  • A Referral from your GP or specialist is helpful but NOT essential – you can have a consultation without a GP Referral
  • Email us or Call on 09 529 5352 to arrange your surgeon consultation appointment.
  • Book a consultation with Dr Gittos by paying the Consultation Fee – $350 incl GST

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Please contact us to arrange to book a consultation with our Specialist Plastic Surgeon or to speak with our Patient Care Advisor.

Send an enquiry form today or phone  09 529 5352  during Clinic Hours