Degenerative & Rheumatoid Arthritis
While these two conditions arise from different causes, in the end, they both result in pain and or joint instability due to accelerated wear and tear.
Degenerative arthritis, otherwise known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis (OA), comes from the wearing away of cartilage from joints. Part of this occurs as a natural progression of wear and tear. In some patients, cartilage seems to be genetically-designed to wear out a bit quicker than in the rest of the population. As the cartilage wears away, the ends of the bones become exposed and inflammation arises in the joint. It is this inflammation that causes swelling, redness, and pain. At California Hand Center, osteoarthritis is treated with behavioral modification, therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. When these are insufficient, surgical intervention may be indicated, including joint fusion or joint replacement surgery.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a much less common cause for arthritis. Nevertheless, in this form of arthritis, again cartilaginous tissues break down more rapidly than in an unafflicted person. Instead of mere wear and tear, as in osteoarthritis, in rheumatoid arthritis this is due to a problem of synovial proliferation. The linings of the joints and tendon sheaths grow too much, and cartilage wears away. What the patient often notices is joint instability and disfigurement. Occasionally, tendons rupture. As pharmaceutical treatments (medications) have changed over the years, there is much less need for surgical intervention. However, for those patients who have lost function in their hands, or dislike the disfigurement resulting from the loss of joint stability, surgical intervention such as joint fusion, joint replacement, or tendon transfer reconstruction may be indicated.