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What You Need to Know About Joint Fusion Surgery


Joint replacement surgery (arthrodesis) is performed to treat painful and damaged joints, often due to arthritis. It is an effective treatment option if the patient is a candidate for the surgery. It is not just effective but is a long-lasting treatment option for damaged joints. 

What is the Purpose of Joint Fusion Surgery?

When conservative methods have failed, joint replacement can provide relief. Surgeons usually recommend conservative procedures such as steroid injections and physical therapy first. 

Surgeons can perform joint replacement surgery on many areas of the body where there are damaged joints, though the spine is common. 

What is the purpose of the surgery? To fuse two bones. As a result, it becomes one stable and solid bone. The procedure reduces pain and provides stability to the joint. 

What is the Procedure for Joint Fusion?

Joint fusion is generally done on an outpatient basis so that the patient can go home the same day. Whether the surgeon uses general or local anesthesia depends on the patient’s treatment plan. 

The surgeon makes an incision to remove the damaged cartilage from the joint, allowing the bones to fuse together. The surgeon may take a piece of bone, usually from the pelvic bone, between the two ends of the damaged joint. Sometimes an artificial bone is used to use a piece of bone from the patient. 

The surgeon may use metal plates, screws, or wires to secure the joint to ensure the joints stay stable. Usually, these remain in place after the joint has healed. 

Once the surgery is complete, the surgeon closes the incision. They may use sutures or staples to ensure wound closure. 

What are the Risks of Joint Fusion Surgery?

No surgery comes without risks, and though a joint fusion is considered a safe procedure, there are risks to be aware of: 

  • Scar tissue after the surgery
  • Arthritis in nearby joints
  • Infection of the wound after surgery
  • Unusual bleeding after surgery
  • Blood clots, especially if the patient has a history of blood clots
  • Nerve damage around the area of the repaired joint

What does Recovery from a Joint Fusion Entail?

Most patients do well with over-the-counter NSAIDS after surgery. If the patient has severe pain, they may be prescribed pain medication that must be taken as directed.

Expect that healing can take up to 12 weeks. It is imperative to avoid lifting or weight-bearing until you are fully healed. Crutchers or another assistive device are often suggested during recovery depending on where the patient had the fusion.  

Most patients need to wear a brace or splint after surgery so the fusion can heal properly. 

During the healing period, the patient will likely need support with activities of daily living. Any activity that may bear weight, such as cleaning, will require assistance. Sometimes tasks such as dressing and showering even can be difficult. 

Physical therapy is always recommended to help with range of motion and prevent the joints from feeling stiff. They will slowly work with the patient on exercises, including introducing weight-bearing activities when it is time. 

By following directions given by the patient’s  provider and keeping all follow-up appointments, you can expect a safe and effective recovery after your joining fusion surgery.

Raleigh orthopedic surgeons

Where Can I Find an Outpatient Surgical Center that performs Joint Fusions? 

Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center is the largest, most modern outpatient surgical center in Eastern North Carolina. The goal of our Raleigh orthopedic surgeons is patient satisfaction, superior clinical outcomes, and cost reduction. 

How can we accomplish this? Through dedication and innovation of surgical procedures for our patients. Our Raleigh Orthopedic Surgeons are board-certified physicians with advanced training in their sub-specialty. We use the most up-to-date surgical equipment to provide our patients with high-quality, personalized care from start to finish, in a cost-effective manner. 

Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center is the right choice for your orthopedic procedure. 

Contact us for your orthopedic needs. We look forward to helping you get back to things you love in life! 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.