I have had problems with my left foot for years, involving multiple surgeries.
In January 2011, I had a naviculo-cuneiform fusion revision. I had the joint fused initially in 2009 but it failed, so with this fusion, the doctor was much more aggressive. I had the hardware removed in December 2011, because it was causing pain due to the large amount of metal in such a small area.
However, since having the hardware removed, my pain has not been alleviated much at all. My foot "pops" multiple times a day. It sounds just like a knuckle is popping, but it is INCREDIBLY painful. It doesn't pop as often when I wear my post-op boot, but still pops occasionally. On top of that, it hurts all day long, so much so that I need to take tramadol to be able to walk.
I went back to my doctor, who ordered an MRI. The MRI came back overall normal, but showed a lot of fluid in my foot, and showed that the fusion had spread into the joint next to the one I had fused, essentially fusing just half of the joint. It's also visible on an xray- half of the joint looks like a normal joint, the other half (the side closest to the fully fused joint) is completely solid bone.
Is this a normal thing? For a fusion to spread into a neighboring joint? My doctor did not even offer an explanation for why I am experiencing the popping and pain, he just gave me the old "let's just wait and see!" I'm not sure what waiting will do, it has been popping for 6 months now, like 20 times a day, and only seems to be increasing in painfulness as time goes on.
I had never imagined that a fusion could spread like that, so I can't help but wonder if that might be causing the popping. My doctor has really frustrated me and I am considering switching to a new one. Has anyone else experienced this? It might be a totally normal thing, but to me it sounded weird...
It's normal for a joint fusion to cause arthritis in neighboring joints, but to make them actually fuse spontaneously is a little odd. Plus, it usually takes 5-10 years after a fusion for neighboring joints to go bad, half a year is a pretty short time.
I would get your films and take them to a second opinion with an orthopedist who is a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon.
The doctor I am currently seeing is a board certified foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon, but I think I might be moving on to a new one soon. It's not the the joint next to it is damaged, it's half fused. My doctor didn't say much about it, but referred to it as "the fusion spread over halfway into the neighboring joint". I didn't think that sounded normal.. I just wonder if that could be the cause of the "popping".
But the neighboring joint was perfectly healthy before the one next to it was fused. I'm not sure what would be causing that joint to be pushed together long enough to cause just half of it to fuse. Is it normal for only half the healthy joint to spontaneously self-fuse? Or could that be problematic?
Have no idea. But it had to be missing some cartilege or it couldn't have fused. It has to be bone to bone to fuse which means no cartilege at that particular point. Perhaps you should seek a second opinion - but take your before the surgery x rays with you!