Fusion Surgery

Next, they’ll use metal plates, screws, or wires to close the space within your joint. This hardware is often permanent and will stay in even after your joint heals.

After they are finished, your surgeon will close your incisions with sutures or staples.

What’s Recovery Like?

Over time, the ends of your joint will grow together to become one solid piece. You won’t be able to move it anymore.

Until that happens, you’ll need to protect the area. You’ll probably need to wear a cast or brace. And, you’ll need to keep all weight off the joint. This could mean you’ll use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair to get around.

Healing can take up to 12 weeks, so you’ll want some help getting through your daily life. You may need to ask a family member or friend to assist with household tasks.

After this type of surgery, you can expect to lose some of your range of motion and feel stiff in your joint. Physical therapy can help keep your other joints in good working shape.

It’s normal to feel pain after you have joint fusion surgery. Your doctor will help you control this. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a safer choice than opioids, which are highly addictive. If your doctor prescribes opioids, follow their instructions exactly. Make sure you stop taking them as soon as your pain lessens.

What Are the Risks of Joint Fusion Surgery?

In general, doctors believe this procedure is safe. Most people do well after having it, and complications are rare. Still, you could experience:

  • Broken hardware
  • Painful scar tissue
  • Arthritis in nearby joints
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage

Smokers are also at risk for a condition doctors call pseudoarthrosis. This means that not enough bone is able to form for the joint to fully fuse. If so, you may end up needing a second surgery.

Doctor's Talk