Arthrodesis is a bone fusion surgery. Chiropractic care may help people avoid or recover from arthrodesis.
What is Arthrodesis?
Arthrodesis (artificial ankylosis, syndesis) is a type of surgery that makes bones immobile. If there is too much pain in a joint, and all traditional medical methods (i.e., splints, pain medication, etc.) have been exhausted, this type of surgery may been performed. Pain from fractures, arthritis, and other disorders of the hand, ankle, foot, and spine might all qualify for arthrodesis. Historically, arthrodesis was used for the hip and knee pain, but arthroplasty is now the preferred surgical treatment for those conditions.1 Arthroplasty is the replacement, realignment, or remodeling of the musculoskeletal joint. Arthroplasty is used for pain management, and it is most commonly used in hip replacement surgery, such as for patients with osteoarthritis.2 Arthrodesis, on the other hand, may be indicated ifarthroplasty has failed. It can be done as a bone graft using autograft (patient’s bone) or allograft (donor’s bone). Autograft is preferred because osteoblasts (cells that make bones) are native to the patient’s body. If the patient doesn’t have enough supply to do an autograft, then an allograft is used. The process of allograft, however, has the added challenges of deep freezing, demineralization, and irradiation, thereby killing living cells. There are also “synthetic bone substitutes” and metal implants that can be used in joining bones. Surgical recovery can take weeks to more than a year. The fusion from surgery can strengthen the bones.3
Chiropractic Care After Bone Fusion Surgery
Chiropractors can work with patients having musculoskeletal joint pain to help prevent the need for medical interventions and surgery. Absent that option, patients who have undergone arthrodesis and other types of surgical treatments can still seek chiropractic care, especially if they haven’t had enough pain management. While patients are recovering from arthrodesis, they need to avoid twisting, straining, or putting pressure on the bones. They may also receive physical therapy during their recovery year. Some patients have worsening pain after surgery. Chiropractors are specially trained in treating patients as individuals, taking care to do adjustments that meet their patients’ specific needs. Many chiropractors are skilled at post-surgical adjustments. Spinal adjustment and distraction decompression, but not rotational methods, may be best for spinal fusion patients, for example. After the first year of recovery from surgery, patients can seek a chiropractor who is trained in treating post-surgical patients through their surgeon, physical therapist, or the American Chiropractic Association.4 Bone fusion can lead to strains in other parts of the body that are compensating for the lack of movement. Chiropractors can treat the areas around the fused region, such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Patients can then do special exercises and learn how to move so that they don’t create more injuries.5
Learn more about chiropractic options after back surgeries.