Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting one out of every five adults and nearly 300,000 children. Arthritis is typically a chronic condition for which there is no cure, but there are many treatment options available that can alleviate pain and restore joint function. Medications, weight loss, exercise and physical therapy have proven to be very successful for many arthritis patients, but if these methods have been exhausted and you still experience chronic pain, surgery may be the next logical step (Source: Arthritis Foundation).
The decision to have arthritis surgery is an important choice, but it can also be incredibly freeing. Several surgical options are available to stabilize joints, restore movement, improve function, and alleviate joint pain to give you a renewed sense of freedom and refreshed outlook on life.
Some of the most common joint surgeries for arthritis include:
- Arthroscopy – This minimally invasive surgical technique uses a tiny fiber-optic video camera and specialized instruments to perform surgery through small, buttonhole-sized incisions. Arthroscopy can be used to repair damaged cartilage or soft tissues in the knees, hips, shoulders, and other joints.
- Osteotomy – Osteotomy involves shortening or adding length to a bone in order to shift alignment. This procedure can be used to shift weight away from an area damaged by arthritis or to correct misalignment.
- Synovectomy – The lining of the joints, known as the synovium, can become inflamed and cause damage to surrounding joint tissues in arthritic patients. During synovectomy, surgeons remove the overgrowth of synovium to relieve pain and improve joint function.
- Fusion – Fusion surgery is performed on patients with significant joint damage. During this procedure, a surgeon uses hardware to “fuse” two or more bones together in the spine, wrist, ankles or fingers. Over time, bone growth will continue to strengthen the joint and lock it in place.
- Joint Resurfacing – In the knees, this procedure is commonly known as partial knee replacement. During this procedure, the surgeon replaces one compartment of the knee with an implant while preserving the structure of the remaining compartments. Joint resurfacing can also be performed on the hip, in which the damaged hip socket and hip ball are replaced with a metal prosthetic implant.
- Total Joint Replacement – For patients who are not candidates for joint resurfacing, total joint replacement may be the best option. This procedure replaces the damaged joint with a prosthetic implant that recreates the natural movement of the joint. Total joint replacement is a reliable, long-term solution for arthritis patients, but implants may wear out over time and require joint revision surgery.