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Surgery for Osteoarthritis Joint Pain

Osteotomy for Joint Pain Relief continued...

After the surgery, you'll spend at least two hours in the recovery room. Most people who have osteotomy spend two to four days recovering in the hospital.

Recovery From an Osteotomy

The knee will be bandaged and iced after an osteotomy. It's common to have night sweats and/or a fever of up to 101F. You'll receive pain medicine either by mouth or intravenously. At home, be sure to take your pain medication as directed.

You may have a lot of pain at first. You'll be given pain medicine, either orally or through an IV (intravenous) line, as well as instructions as to what to do over the next couple of days.

As soon as possible, while still in bed, expect to begin bending and extending your leg to keep it from stiffening. This may be done using a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine.

Once the incision closes (in about six days), you may be fitted with a knee brace, or the surgeon may cast your knee for four to six weeks. Physical therapy can usually start six to eight weeks after the surgery.

Note: A procedure called hemicallotasis may be done as an alternative to knee osteotomy. The surgery involves cutting partway through the bone, then pinning an external frame to the knee to hold the bone apart to create a gap and allow the gap to be slowly widened by twists of the pins over time. This encourages new bone to grow into the gap.

Joint Fusion (Arthrodesis) for Joint Pain

Like osteotomy, joint fusion surgery may be done when joint replacement isn't an option. The osteoarthritis-involved bones are fused so they grow together to form one bone. Although the fused joint is not flexible, it's very stable. Arthrodesis is done to relieve pain in the spine and smaller joints -- such as the ankles, wrists, fingers, and thumbs.

Benefits and Risks of Joint Fusion Surgery

Benefits of joint fusion surgery include:

  • Osteoarthritis pain relief
  • A straightened and stabilized joint

Risks of joint fusion surgery include:

  • Nerve or artery damage
  • Lack of bone fusion, requiring more surgery

What Happens During Joint Fusion Surgery

During joint fusion surgery, the surgeon makes an incision over the joint affected by osteoarthritis, then exposes it by carefully moving aside muscles or ligaments. Next, the surgeon roughens the bones of the joint and lays pieces of donor bone or your own bone over the joint to start the fusion process.

During healing, the fused joint is kept in place with a cast, pins, screws, or plates. Depending on the joint fused, you may be hospitalized for one to four days and wear your joint support for a period of time after going home.

Recovery From Joint Fusion Surgery

After joint fusion surgery, you'll need to adjust to moving and using the limb without bending it. This can make it harder to do some familiar things, like climbing stairs or getting into a small car, and some people walk differently after surgery.

Also, it's normal to have some pain, tenderness, and stiffness after surgery. Before you go home, ask about signs and symptoms of complications. At home, call your surgeon if you have any concerns.


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