The Finger Fusion Operation
In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As the cartilage continues to wear away, the bone will rub against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.
The Finger Fusion operation involves binding the two joint surfaces of the finger together in order to keep them from rubbing on one another. The articular cartilage is removed from both joint surfaces to leave two surfaces of raw bone. The surgeon then places a metal pin through the centre of both bones. The metal pin allows the two bones to hold together in the correct alignment and prevent the bones from moving too much as they fuse.
After The Operation
Your finger/hand will be covered in a bulky plaster bandage. To avoid swelling and throbbing, you should keep your hand elevated for the first few days. Your stitches will be removed after 10-12 days by the hand therapist, and your finger/hand will be placed in a splint or a plaster cast for up to six weeks. When the splint/cast is removed after six weeks, you may have stiffness in the joints closest to the fused joint. You may require further hand therapy to improve hand function.
You may drive after 2 weeks if you feel safe to do so. You may begin light duties after 3 weeks and most patients can return to normal activity after 2 months.
Risks Of Surgery
As with all surgical procedures, complications can occur but this is a generally risk free procedure. Swelling and stiffness in the hand and fingers may persist longer than expected but this should reduce over time. Infection is rare. If screw is used for fusing the joint it can sometimes irritate the soft tissues or can break which might need removal. Sometimes the finger bones do not fuse as planned. This is called a nonunion. If this is the case, a second operation may be recommended if pain persists.