After Care and Therapy
PIP Fusion Fingers
PIP joint is the middle joint of fingers. It is commonly affected both by osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It leads to swelling and reduced motion in the joint. The pain is often not bad and tolerable and well controlled by pain killers. If pain is a problem then the joint can be fused by an operation. This helps the pain and improves function but no movement is possible at this joint. It is therefore an operation which is done mainly to control pain only as a last resort. The operation is done under either a general anaesthesia (being asleep) or a regional nerve block (when the arm is frozen) and sometimes even under a local anaesthesia. The operation is done as a day case procedure.
You will be discharged home with a bandaged finger and hand. You will need to keep the hand elevated and may require some pain killers for a few days.
0 – 6 Weeks
You first clinic visit will be at 2 weeks, when the bandage will be changed and stitches will be removed. An x-ray will be performed to check for position of fusion. The finger will be strapped to the neighbouring finger and you will be allowed to move fingers together gently. You may need to be referred to therapy to help reduce swelling and to mobilise other fingers. The neighbour strapping can be removed at 4 weeks and you can start exercising fingers individually.
6 – 12 Weeks
At your next clinic visit (6 weeks) another x-ray will be performed to look for signs of healing. If all seems well then you will be allowed to carry out moderate degrees of activities with this hand at 6 weeks. It is usually necessary to carry out another x-ray at 12 weeks to confirm healing. You will then be discharged. With regular use and exercise the hand function will continue to improve in the next 6-12 months.