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The Benefits and Expected Results of Arthrodesis (Joint Fusion)

If you suffer from arthritis that causes joint pain or disability, you are not alone. Arthritis affects nearly one quarter of all adults in America and is the leading cause of disability in the United States. There are more than 100 different types of this common cause of joint pain and discomfort, and it affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities.

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint, and can affect any joint in the body. Each of the various types of arthritis can be categorized as either: 1) osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear, natural aging or trauma; or 2) arthritis caused by the inflammatory process as the result of an immune response in the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints with uncontrolled inflammation.

Whether your arthritis or joint discomfort is caused by injury, wear and tear or disease, common symptoms include pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion in the joints. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and debilitating. They may come and go and can get progressively worse with time, resulting in chronic pain and/or long-lasting disability.

Arthrodesis in Houston for Treatment of Joint Pain

Treatment for arthritis or joint pain depends on the severity and cause of the disease. Mild pain and discomfort from some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, is often manageable with medication. However, symptoms that are associated with severe osteoarthritis that do not respond to pain management options such as medication, splints or other therapies may be treated with a surgical procedure called arthrodesis (also known as spinal fusion or joint fusion surgery).

During this procedure, the bones that form the affected joint are fused together. Arthrodesis may occur as a natural process, but when joint pain is not resolved with medication or other therapies, it may be recommended as a surgical procedure.

Arthrodesis, or joint fusion, is most commonly recommended for patients with severe arthritis or joint pain, swelling or stiffness in the spine, but it can also be performed on the hand, ankle, wrist or knees. Candidates for arthrodesis surgery include patients who have arthritis and whose joints are severely damaged by the disease. Joint replacement may also be recommended, depending on the affected joint (such as with hips or knees).

Arthrodesis surgery may be performed using one of these techniques:

  • Creation of bone graft between the two bones using a bone from elsewhere in the patient’s body or using donor bone.
  • Placement of metal implants, which are attached to the two bones to hold them together in a position that encourages bone growth.
  • The use of bone from tissue banks to be readily available and ground using a patented composite technology that aids in advanced healing of the bone after surgery and encourages bone growth.

The goal of arthrodesis surgery is to immobilize the joints at the point of fusion, thereby reducing pain caused by motion or instability of the spine or joint. Benefits of this procedure include pain relief, joint stability and improved alignment of the joint.

As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with arthrodesis, such as the possibility of complications during the wound healing process, infection or broken hardware. Arthrodesis is typically a successful procedure and complications are rare.

Healing from arthrodesis surgery can take several weeks to more than a year, depending on the location of the joint fusion. Healing is complete once the two adjoining bones have fused together and no motion is possible between them.

If you suffer from joint pain or back pain due to arthritis, contact Houston’s arthrodesis spine doctor, Dr. Kushwaha, for more information on arthrodesis surgery to treat your pain.

About Vivek Kushwaha

Vivek P. Kushwaha attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned his B.A. from the College of Natural Sciences. He then earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio, Texas.

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