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Is amputation a good option?

ThePendulumThePendulum Member Posts: 8
edited 22. Mar 2018, 12:59 in Living with Arthritis archive
I have mostly kept my problems to myself because it's hard for me to find anyone that comes even close to understanding what it's like to have constant pain and stiffness but here goes. I had an injury to my right right finger about 8 years ago (I'm 32 now). My bones/joint never quite healed correctly and over the years arthritis/pain was getting worse and my finger kept getting more disfigured. I haven't ever been able to properly make a fist because of this pretty much since. I've had three surgeries on it in the past year (stem cells in a joint to help with movement and pain), tenolysis and this year I received an experimental prosthetic joint in my finger with a NEW doctor. It worked!.... Kinda. My PIP/middle joint is moving very well but the tip of my finger isn't moving at all. On top of my finger being twice the size of my other fingers.

The thing is... I don't have the same pain in my finger anymore but now I have new pain. It feels like my tendons and pulleys are just completely shot and I'm still unable to make a fist. Opening and bending my finger is tight and still hurts. I've been doing physical therapy for a good year. I'm just completely fed up with dealing with my finger. I asked about amputation and my doctor said I should wait 6 months to consider it. I don't really want to wait anymore because I can see the disappointment coming. My family and especially my mother have been screaming and crying because I'm even considering it but I don't think they understand how it actually feels and it depresses me even more.

I'm tired of being in pain and crying half my days. I'm tired of my brain telling me I can move something but my body won't. I want to be able to focus on life more than the pain I have in my hand and I'd like to be able to make a fist even with one finger missing. I can't seem to find much info online about amputations as an option and the after effects of them. Supposedly pain can actually be worse after? Has anyone here have had the option to amputate a limb which causes problems? Or if you went through with an amputation do you think it was worth it?

I'd really appreciate some light on my predicament. I'm going to leave an image of my hand in question so you can see what I mean. It may look swollen but it actually isn't very swollen at all.... it's just what my finger has finally come to after all these years. I posted this elsewhere but my predicament is still the same. Thank you!



  • trepolpentrepolpen Member Posts: 500
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    it dont look nice & there is alot of us with fingers that look similar in someways but without to much pain , myself I have got alot of problems with both legs & with other health problems I could end up losing one or both legs , because of infection / diabetes with joint replacements

    I would look for any other option first but if its the only thing stopping you get your life back then I would consider it but talk it through with your consultant
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,567
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'd rather have pain with the finger than phantom pain without. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • elnafinnelnafinn Member Posts: 8,043
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    By amputating the finger you would still get pain ie phantom pain as dreamdaisy mentions. Is it the pain or the fact that you cannot make your hand into a fist that is most important to you? If you do go down the amputation route I hope you will be able to make your hand form a fist but that may not automatically be the case.

    A difficult call for you to make and I am sorry that your family are not being as supportive as you would wish them to be which also adds to your anguish.
    The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

    If you can lay down at night knowing in your heart that you made someone's day just a little bit better, you know you had a good day.
  • ThePendulumThePendulum Member Posts: 8
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm posting one more picture to show what kind of "fist" I can make. https://imgur.com/xuEncP5

    Trepolpen, sadly I had three surgeries already and the doctor that performed my last one is telling me he'd like to try one more to help me bend it even further by cutting pockets into some parts of my finger to help it move and ease the pain from stiffness. Problem is... now I'm looking at more waiting and more surgeries and even more pain for something that most likely won't even help me.

    @dreamdaisy There is severe discomfort and pain that I just can't describe with this. I'd almost rather deal with no finger.

    @elna Honestly, it's mostly about how much stiffness just this one finger causes in my hand. I can get my hand to that position with alot of effort but it just doesn't feel right inside and it's hard for me to describe it.

    This week I'm most likely going to make some phone calls to find someone to amputate. My doctor says I should make sure when I amputate that the doctor takes out all the bone inside my hand running up from my finger as well. I've cried enough for the past 5 years over this and I think it's just time to start a new chapter. The only thing holding me back (mostly) is how I feel about the social stigma of being an amputee. Thank you for the advice and I still hope to hear a bit more on experiences people may have had with this.
  • stickywicketstickywicket Member Posts: 26,006
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I think you have already decided that you want this finger amputated. You can't cope with the pain and you want to be able to make a fist. It wouldn't be my choice. Indeed, it never has been with any of my arthritic fingers and I have never felt that being unable to make a fist was a problem but we each have our own lives to lead and our own decisions to make.

    I hope that your 'New Chapter' will be a good one. I see no reason why anyone, of any worth, would stigmatise you for having one finger less. However, I'm afraid I fail to share your optimism that amputation will solve your problems. I hope I'm wrong but arthritis is not usually discarded so simply. I would suggest you first consider what you will do if it returns in other fingers.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • ThePendulumThePendulum Member Posts: 8
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Just thought I should pop in and show off my recent x-ray if anyone cares to see it! It's still a pretty rare procedure it seems so any questions that anyone may have about something like this I'll answer. I hope you all have a great day.


  • stickywicketstickywicket Member Posts: 26,006
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    The prosthetic joint looks good and I'm sure that, with the right proportions of rest, icing and exercising, it will get increasingly better.

    Finger joint replacements are not new. I knew someone who had hers done way back in the '70s. So they are now a tried and tested operation which, with the right aftercare, can work extremely well. I wish you well with yours.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
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