Rebuilding Arthritic Fingers

FRESNO, Calif.

Ginamarie Russo doesn't wear the gloves but she writes about the boxers who do.

"It just fascinates me. I started going down to the gym and ringside fights," Ginamarie Russo.

Like a lot of these guys, she knows what it feels like to get hit hard. At just 12, she got a diagnosis that would affect her for the rest of her life.

"It started in one of my wrists, shooting, shooting pain that wouldn't go away. It just completely took over my hand. I couldn't function anymore," Ginamarie said.

Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, Ginamarie's identical twin watched as her sister's right hand became crippled.

"I would hold the toothbrush, everything. The fork, I would help her eat," Annamarie Russo Ginamarie's sister, said.

"I thank god for my twin sister. She's my right hand. Still is," Ginamarie said.

Beth Israel's orthopedic hand surgeon Charles Melone watched Ginamarie's hand deteriorate.

"By the time I saw her, she could barely write," Charles Melone, M.D., a chief of hand surgery at the department of orthopedic surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, said.

Doctor Melone replaced four of the knuckles in Ginamarie's right hand with silicone implants and realigned her tendons.

"You remove this part of the joint, and realign the bone, and then, you replace the joint," Melone explained.

Now, after five months of therapy, including using a hand out-rigger, she's back in the gym.

"I was so excited for my new hand. No pain, and I'm back to writing again," Ginamarie said.

And her next article is sure to be a knock out! Doctor Melone said the silicone knuckles used for Ginamarie usually last for at least 15 years.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Joanne H. Nicholas
Director, Public Affairs
Continuum Health Partners
(212) 523-7772

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