Joint fusion surgery or arthrodesis is a great tool for reducing pain in your spine, wrists, hands, fingers, thumbs, ankles, or feet. Suppose you have been dealing with pain and have tried different treatments such as pain management or orthopedic rehabilitation but have been unable to achieve lasting relief. In that case, fusion surgery may help alleviate pain caused by arthritis or by bone fractures that have healed poorly. Fusion has also been done successfully in patients with back problems like scoliosis or degenerative disk issues. Through this procedure, your orthopedic surgeon can fuse the end of two bones that meet at a joint, thus eliminating the joint and providing relief of the discomfort. If you are experiencing pain for these reasons, talk to your orthopedist about the possibility of fusion surgery and whether this could offer you a way to minimize or eliminate pain.
What Can I Expect From Fusion Surgery?
The surgery will not begin until you have received some anesthesia to keep you from feeling anxious or experiencing any pain during the procedure. Then, your orthopedic surgeon will remove the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the bones that come together at the painful point. The cartilage is removed because it is worn and damaged. Finally, either screws and a metal plate or a bone graft will be positioned in the area to hold the end of both bones in place and help them fuse.
Depending on the area being operated on, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to fuse your bones. If so, you can expect a faster recovery with less postoperative discomfort.
What Happens After The Surgery?
After you have had your fusion procedure, you will be expected to wear a cast to ensure that the bones are kept in place while they heal. If the surgery were performed either in your ankle or on your foot, you would also have to use crutches to make it easier for you to keep any weight off the foot during the healing process. Regardless of the joint that is fused, you will need orthopedic rehabilitation to help you regain flexibility and strength while you recover.
How Can My Doctor Know If I Am A Good Candidate For Fusion Surgery?
Your doctor will take the time to determine whether you are a good candidate for fusion surgery for the painful area that has been bothering you. Your doctor will start by reviewing your medical history. Then, they will conduct a physical examination and give you diagnostic imaging tests. With this information on hand, they will assess your goals and talk to you about the expected outcome.
If you are deemed a good candidate for fusion surgery and decide to go through with it, you will likely achieve a significant reduction in pain. However, depending on the area where you are considering a fusion, you need to be clear on what the surgery will do for you and whether you will still be able to conduct all the activities you were able to perform before the procedure. Ceda Orthopedic Group recommends that you talk to your doctor about what you can expect regarding your recovery and any possible limitations you may face later before making a final decision.