Surgical Information - Procedure

Finger Joint Fusion

What is finger joint fusion?

Finger joint fusion, also called arthrodesis, is a surgical procedure to fuse together the bones of the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint, the joint closest to the fingernail. The technique is performed to alleviate pain, improve stability and improve deformity in DIP joints severely affected by osteoarthritis.

Finger joint fusion creates a stronger, more stable and essentially pain-free joint, but with limited flexibility and movement.

Anatomy

The finger is composed of ligaments, tendons and bones. There are no muscles in the fingers; they move by the pull of the forearm muscles on the tendons. The three finger joints include the metacarpophalangeal joint,which joins the hand and fingers, the proximal interphalangeal joint in the middle of the finger, and distal interphalangeal joint, the joint closest to the fingernail.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have pain and loss of function in your DIP joint, secondary to arthritis, that limits your everyday activities, and all non-operative methods of treatment have failed – including anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and physical therapy – fusion surgery may be the answer for you.

What is the recovery time?

Patients wear a removable splint for several weeks to keep the joint stable and help the soft tissues and bone heal. Occasionally, rehabilitation with a Certified Hand Specialist can be helpful with overall recovery. Overall recovery time varies, but most people return to everyday activities within one month. Patients should avoid heavy lifting for at least three months following fusion surgery.

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