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Joint arthrodesis and Social Security Disability

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2022 | Social Security Disability |

Arthritis can cause joint pain that is so severe it may be disabling. Sometimes the only treatment to reduce arthritis pain is surgical.

Arthrodesis is a surgical procedure that relieves arthritis pain by fusing two or more bones together. Following the procedure, the surgically fused joint can no longer move. In some cases, a patient may be able to collect Social Security Disability following a joint arthrodesis.

What happens during an arthrodesis procedure?

The arthrodesis technique may vary based on the site of surgery, but essentially, the procedure involves removing the damaged cartilage from the joint and then filling it up with bone graft material. According to WebMD, the graft material may be either synthetic or organic. In the latter case, the doctor may either take the graft material from the patient’s own body or from donated bones.

Whatever the material used for the graft, the surgeon installs surgical hardware to hold it in place and prevent the joint from moving. The hardware usually remains in place permanently, even after the graft has integrated with the remaining bone.

What are common arthrodesis sites?

Arthrodesis works better on some joints than others. Doctors do not perform it where the outcome is unlikely to be favorable. Common arthrodesis sites include the following:

  • Ankle
  • Feet
  • Fingers
  • Spine
  • Thumb
  • Wrists

When is an arthrodesis eligible for Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration requires that a patient seeking SSD after an arthrodesis meets three criteria. First, the arthrodesis has to be of a major weightbearing joint. The ankles, feet and spine could qualify; the fingers might not.

Second, following the procedure, the patient has to have an impairment that physically limits musculoskeletal functioning.

Third, the patient must have a need for a mobility device that requires the use of both hands following the arthrodesis procedure. A doctor has to document the patient’s medical need for the device, and the patient has to submit that documentation when applying for SSD.