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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Arthrodesis is surgery to completely fuse (join) the bones of a joint. This prevents the joint from moving. This surgery may be done to decrease pain caused by arthritis, injuries, or deformed joints. Arthrodesis may be done on large joints such as your elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle. It may also be done on the small joints of your hand or foot.
Call 911 if:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, or have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. Or if it looks swollen and red.
- Your leg or arm is pale, numb, or cool to the touch.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches or staples come apart.
- Your splint or cast comes off.
- You have severe pain, even after you take medicine.
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have pain and swelling in your joint that does not get better with medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Prescription pain medicine will usually be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for yourself at home:
- Apply ice on your joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Elevate your joint above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your joint on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Use support devices as directed. You may need to wear a splint, soft or hard cast, or walking boot to keep your joint stable as it heals.
- Follow activity restrictions as directed. You will need to limit certain activities while your joint heals and fuses together. If you had arthrodesis in your knee, ankle, or foot, you will need to keep weight off your joint for up to 12 weeks. Use crutches as directed. You will be allowed to slowly put more weight on your joint over time.
- Care for your wound as directed. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to return to have your stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.