Bone or joint fusion surgery, called arthrodesis, is performed to relieve arthritis pain in the ankles, wrists, fingers, thumbs, or spine.
In arthrodesis, two bones on each end of a joint are fused, eliminating the joint itself. While a fused joint loses flexibility, it can bear weight better, is more stable, and is no longer painful.
Arthroplasty is a surgery that reconstructs or replaces a diseased joint. For rheumatoid arthritis, arthroplasty is done to restore function to a joint or correct a deformity. Bones in a joint can be reshaped. All or part of the joint can be replaced with metal, ceramic, or plastic parts.
Arthroplasty can relieve pain and restore enough function in a joint to allow a person to perform normal daily activities.