What is wrist fusion?
Wrist fusion surgery, sometimes referred to as arthrodesis, permanently fuses together certain bones in the wrist to reduce pain and restore stability. It is often used to treat severe arthritis when non-invasive treatments are no longer effective. By making the bones grow together, they can no longer rub up against each other and cause painful symptoms. Wrist fusion surgery can also be used to treat wrist fractures, severe ligament injuries and certain diseases.
There are different types of surgery available, ranging from a total wrist fusion which bonds the entire wrist, to a partial wrist fusion that involves just one smaller part of the wrist. During surgery, the hard outer layer of the joint surface is removed to expose the softer bone surfaces that will grow together more easily. The bones are aligned in the most optimal position before being fused together with plates and screws. Wrist fusion surgery may limit mobility, but it successfully relieves painful symptoms and increases wrist stability for the future.
General recovery times
Most patients are kept in hospital overnight with their hand elevated above their heart to reduce swelling and promote healing. The first phase of recovery is about managing the pain and encouraging healing.
After surgery, the hand must be kept elevated, and it is immobilised in a cast for the first 6 weeks to allow the bones time to fuse together. This is an important stage of recovery as there is a risk the bones will not bond together if they are disrupted in any way. An X-Ray will confirm whether the bones have successfully fused together. The second phase of recovery focuses on increasing the range of motion and strengthening your wrist and hand. To do this, your doctor will prescribe a hand therapy program to avoid the wrist joint stiffening up and prevent scar tissue forming. It can take up to 3 months to make a full recovery from wrist fusion surgery.
Other wrist surgeries and procedures
Common wrist conditions
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