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What is Arthritis Surgery?

Arthritis is a condition characterized by the inflammation of one or more joints due to damage to the cartilage tissue in the joints causing pain and disability. Surgery to treat arthritis is called arthritis surgery.

Types of Arthritis Surgery

Various procedures may be recommended for arthritis. The type of surgery can depend on the site of injury and the symptoms and can include the following:

  • Arthroscopy: Your doctor will insert a thin flexible tube (arthroscope) with a camera at one end into the joint to view the joint surface and to smooth or remove damaged cartilage and bone fragments.
  • Total Joint Replacement (arthroplasty): Your doctor will remove the damaged joint surfaces and replace them with artificial implants made of plastic or metal. 
  • Synovectomy: Your doctor will remove the synovium or the outer lining of the joint to prevent it from damaging the bones and cartilage.
  • Joint Fusion: Your doctor mayhold2 or more bones in a joint together with screws, pins, or rods so that the bones fuse and the joint is immobile. This is usually recommended for small joints of the wrist, ankle, or spine.
  • Osteotomy: When there is an uneven distribution of weight on the joint such as in bow legs or knock knees, cartilage damage can occur on one side of the joint. Osteotomy is surgery to cut the bone above or below the joint and realign it to redistribute the weight more normally on the joint. This can help prevent the progression of arthritis.

Preparation for Arthritis Surgery

  • Your doctor will instruct you to stop taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin and other supplements a week before the surgery.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have any other medical conditions.
  • You are advised to quit smoking and drinking alcohol as this can delay healing after surgery.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on the joint undergoing surgery.

Post-Operative Care and Recovery after Arthritis Surgery

Postoperative care instructions depend on the type of surgery and the joint being treated. You will be provided with medications to treat pain and soreness. Physical therapy is recommended to improve strength and movement. 

Complications of Arthritis Surgery

Depending on your type of arthritis surgery, complications can include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive pain and swelling
  • Nerve injury
  • Formation of blood clots in the deep veins
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