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Old 08-10-2012, 04:12 PM   #1
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Question Basal Joint reconstruction... Should I wait???

I am new here and while I have read quite a few posts and have learned what I am in store for, I need some advice.

I have had basal joint arthritis for going on 3 years but only have been treating it for the last year. In the last 8 months I have had 4 shots, anti inflammatory medication, icing, and have been wearing the brace but the relief is only short. My doctor told me after the last shot that he could not give me another shot until the beginning of next year because of how many shots I have had this year. He told me that although he couldn't push the surgery, it was something that I should think about.

After getting no relief from the other options, the constant pain and the last straw was not being able to cut my own fingernails, I decided that I would schedule the surgery. When I had my visit today the doctor seemed hesitant to perform the surgery because of my age. He said he normally sees this problem in older people but I don't consider myself young at 41 so I don't see what the problem would be. I told him that if he didn't want to perform the surgery I would find someone else and he said that it wasn't that, it was my age and how long I am going to be out of commission. I told him that I couldn't handle the pain for another whatever years so we scheduled the surgery.

Am I missing something?? Would it be better to wait until I am older? No my hand isn't completely useless but I'd prefer to get the surgery now and begin to heal.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

 
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:37 AM   #2
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Hi and welcome!

I respect your DR a lot; hard to find a surgeon who would be so honest and not "knife happy". I am not in your shoes, although know what arthritis and pain mean very well.
Do you know that no matter what surgery you have on bones you develop Arthritis there, even if surgery was done not for Arthritis diagnoses? Same way as you develop scar tissue if you have surgeries on soft tissue.
So thinking that surgery will "heal" you and you live happily there after may not happen here. Did you do enough research on any surgery? Especially bones surgeries? Did you read enough posts on recovery and living with it after surgery?
You never mentioned what kind surgery this be and what part of the body this is; hands only?
I lived with severe pain from many serious reasons, been on shots and drugs for many-many years and never considered surgery. I need one knee replacement from age 25, I am 56 now and still dont do. Only b/c I was as lucky as you are to meet very honest surgeon who explained to me what to expect and not to expect fully recovery and pain free life after any OA surgery.
I had fare share of surgeries in my life, but due to other health issues.

I am not a DR, I can't tell you what to do. But being someone who cares a lot about people, someone who lives under Pain Mgmt for the rest of my life, disabled after spinal surgeries, want to tell you this: Make sure you are having this surgery for the right reasons. I know you in pain, nothing is worse than bone pain. But somehow I felt you are being unsure if this is the right decision.
Make sure you done 100% everything in your power to make pain better. IF this takes to stop working on computer - do that. If this takes to use your hands a lot - do that. I was the one who screamed: it will never happen, I can't stop doing this or that. Guess what? Surgery stopped it for me. Now I wish I was able to do what I done before my surgeries, but I can't.

Hugs and best wishes to you dear
Moldova

 
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:07 PM   #3
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJ71 View Post
I am new here and while I have read quite a few posts and have learned what I am in store for, I need some advice.

I have had basal joint arthritis for going on 3 years but only have been treating it for the last year. In the last 8 months I have had 4 shots, anti inflammatory medication, icing, and have been wearing the brace but the relief is only short. My doctor told me after the last shot that he could not give me another shot until the beginning of next year because of how many shots I have had this year. He told me that although he couldn't push the surgery, it was something that I should think about.

After getting no relief from the other options, the constant pain and the last straw was not being able to cut my own fingernails, I decided that I would schedule the surgery. When I had my visit today the doctor seemed hesitant to perform the surgery because of my age. He said he normally sees this problem in older people but I don't consider myself young at 41 so I don't see what the problem would be. I told him that if he didn't want to perform the surgery I would find someone else and he said that it wasn't that, it was my age and how long I am going to be out of commission. I told him that I couldn't handle the pain for another whatever years so we scheduled the surgery.

Am I missing something?? Would it be better to wait until I am older? No my hand isn't completely useless but I'd prefer to get the surgery now and begin to heal.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
In my opinion you are too young to have to live with this on a daily basis. I went through the same thing you are. I had young children.I had a full-time job RN position. My husband was fully disabled and I had a severely mentally handicapped, nonverbal and diaper-dependent teenager. I was 51 when I threw in the towel.

Best decision I ever made. I went back to work on day 7, although I should have probably waited until day 10. Wore the cast for 4 weeks, did PT for 12 weeks. I went from 30% function and constant pain to 90% function and NO PAIN. There is very little that slows me down now. My grip isn't as good as it was pre-arthritis, but I no longer have to use a mitten grip. I can do a pincer grip now, to pick up tiny things.

My grandmother had terrible arthritis in her thumb joints. She really suffered with making the bread, washing her clothes in her wringer washer, hanging the clothes out to dry, knitting, and sewing. Her hands were very deformed. I feel sure that if this surgery had been available to her, she would have jumped at the chance.

Frankly, the thought to living another 20 years in great pain, watching my hands lose more and more function scared the snot out of me.

 
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:20 PM   #4
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Moldova - I was 100% sure that surgery was what I wanted. It wasn't a decision I took lightly either. I did numerous months of research and options vs surgery and opted for the surgery because nothing was helping. I discussed every detail about the surgery as well as recovery with my family and we decided what was best.
It is not possible to change jobs because no matter what job I do, hands would be required. Also quitting my job is not an option either.
I appreciate your thoughts and concerns.

 
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:37 PM   #5
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Mustlovepoodles - OMGoodness, I couldn't imagine being in your situation having to deal with the pain and have to make the decision to have the surgery or not. You definitely are a trooper and I commend you on what you have to deal with on a daily basis.

I opted for the surgery and had it done on August 30th. The doctor found that the joint was more worn down then he originally noticed on the xrays. He said the bones had been rubbing together so much that the bones became smooth and was shearing little pieces off. He apologized to my husband and myself for doubting the pain I was in.

I decided to take 3 1/2 weeks off of work and while I do feel I could go back right now, I am enjoying the downtime and I am taking care of myself and not pushing it. I am blessed by having a husband and daughters that have been awesome and supporting so that I am able to rest and relax. I have to say the pain is nothing like I expected (I only have to take 2 pain pills a day) so not sure if I am in trouble when the pain does set it.

I am not too concerned about how much strength I regain because as long as I can use my fingers and the pain is gone (or manageable) I can definitely live with that. I too could not fathom having to live with the pain for years and years so that's why I chose to have the surgery.
Thanks for replying!

 
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:02 PM   #6
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJ71 View Post
Mustlovepoodles - OMGoodness, I couldn't imagine being in your situation having to deal with the pain and have to make the decision to have the surgery or not. You definitely are a trooper and I commend you on what you have to deal with on a daily basis.

I opted for the surgery and had it done on August 30th. The doctor found that the joint was more worn down then he originally noticed on the xrays. He said the bones had been rubbing together so much that the bones became smooth and was shearing little pieces off. He apologized to my husband and myself for doubting the pain I was in.

I decided to take 3 1/2 weeks off of work and while I do feel I could go back right now, I am enjoying the downtime and I am taking care of myself and not pushing it. I am blessed by having a husband and daughters that have been awesome and supporting so that I am able to rest and relax. I have to say the pain is nothing like I expected (I only have to take 2 pain pills a day) so not sure if I am in trouble when the pain does set it.

I am not too concerned about how much strength I regain because as long as I can use my fingers and the pain is gone (or manageable) I can definitely live with that. I too could not fathom having to live with the pain for years and years so that's why I chose to have the surgery.
Thanks for replying!
*nods* That was the way my thumb joint was, filled with bone debris and crunchy. It sounds like you're on track. I was surprised that I didn't have more pain than I did. At 3 weeks, I was taking mostly Tylenol, but i took a narcotic at bedtime so the pain wouldn't interfere with my sleep. And for the most part, that was all i needed. Once in a while I would catch my hand on something and that was Paaain-ful! But once I got to the PT point of recovery, it didn't take long to get the hand working again.

I'm glad you've had such good result. Stick with the PT even if it's painful and tiring. You won't be sorry.

 
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Old 09-09-2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

I am only one week out so PT isn't for another 4 weeks and I definitely plan on sticking to it because it would be pointless to go through a surgery if I'm not willing to see it through. I know some people who would quit the PT when it got tough.

With all the things going on in your life, how did you manage to take care of yourself while still taking care of those who needed it in your family? WOW I'm still in awe of you and having to deal with everything. Definitely one tough person.

 
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:07 PM   #8
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsJ71 View Post
I am only one week out so PT isn't for another 4 weeks and I definitely plan on sticking to it because it would be pointless to go through a surgery if I'm not willing to see it through. I know some people who would quit the PT when it got tough.

With all the things going on in your life, how did you manage to take care of yourself while still taking care of those who needed it in your family? WOW I'm still in awe of you and having to deal with everything. Definitely one tough person.
How? I just had to suck it up. My husband carried part of the load. There were a few things that I absolutely could not do--cut up food and diaper & bathe my son. So DH had to do those things. I had my 14yo daughter help me chop vegetables and do laundry to help her dad. At that time we didn't have any help with my DS, so I just had to power through. The first week was the hardest and I had my sister come over to help with the meals and running the household. But after the first 7 days, if it was going to get done I had to do it. Looking back on it, I must say I'm surprised. But as long as my pain was controlled I did pretty well.

 
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:55 PM   #9
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Re: Basal Joint reconstruction..Should I wait???

It is amazing what your body can do when you absolutely have to. You evidently are a powerhouse when it comes to taking care of your family and you should be proud of yourself I thank you for sharing your experience with me, I appreciate it.

 
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