Considering Osteoarthritis Surgery as a Treatment Option

By on October 10, 2011

For many people, surgery helps relieve the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. Surgery may be performed to…

  • Remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage from the joint if they are causing mechanical symptoms of buckling or locking
  • Resurface (smooth out) bones
  • Reposition bones
  • Replace joints

Orthopedic surgeons may replace affected joints with artificial joints called prostheses. These joints can be made from metal alloys, high-density plastic, and ceramic material. They can be joined to bone surfaces by special cements. Artificial joints can last 10 to 15 years or longer. About 10 percent of artificial joints may need revision. Surgeons choose the design and components of prostheses according to their patient’s weight, sex, age, activity level, and medical history.

The decision to use surgery depends on several things. Both the surgeon and the patient consider the patient’s level of disability, the intensity of pain, the interference with the patient’s lifestyle, the patient’s age, and occupation.

Currently, more than 80 percent of osteoarthritis surgery cases involve replacing the hip or knee joint. After surgery and rehabilitation, the patient usually feels less pain and swelling, and can move more easily.