Surgery for osteoarthritis – different types

One option for people suffering from severe, advanced and painful osteoarthritis is surgery. What primarily determines the need for surgery is pain that doesn’t respond to any other treatment. There are several different surgery options depending on where osteoarthritis has developed in the body. Some common types of osteoarthritis surgery involve replacing knee or hip joints. Similar interventions can be performed in the shoulder or foot. However, it is important to be aware that surgery doesn’t always help.

Osteoarthritis surgery as treatment

Exercise is the basic treatment for osteoarthritis. Most patients manage to live their life without surgery, sometimes with the addition of pain-relieving medication. When and if this doesn’t help and the symptoms remain, surgery may be necessary. However, exercise can still have beneficial effects that can improve the results of surgery. For example, training and exercise can mean a quicker recovery after surgery. Guided and regular exercise should continue after surgery. It can also prevent the development of osteoarthritis in other joints.

You can find more information here about osteoarthritis treatment.

The usual surgery for osteoarthritis is to replace knee or hip joints with artificial joints, so-called prosthetics. Prosthetics are also used for osteoarthritis in the shoulders, ankles and fingers. In other joints, they change the angle of the joint to save the cartilage that is in early stages of osteoarthritis, for example, osteoarthritis in the knee, thumb and big toe. In certain cases, the joint is removed without providing any replacement prosthesis. This can be done in joints with little strain, such as the clavicular joint or toe joints. Arthrodesis is performed for other joints. For example, this applies to the back and finger joints. 

Does osteoarthritis surgery affect the course of the disease?

How surgery affects the course of the disease varies from patient to patient, but also depending on which joint is affected. The goal of surgery is always to reduce the pain. Most people with osteoarthritis who go through surgery develop both improved mobility and considerably less pain.

However, knowledge of the treatment for osteoarthritis is lacking within the healthcare system. In many cases, osteoarthritis is considered a normal part of aging, where you learn to live with the pain until you cannot stand it any more. Osteoarthritis surgery is the first stage in the treatment process for the disease, even before other methods are attempted. As a result, many unnecessary surgeries are performed. This means that surgery could have been avoided if the patient had received the right treatment from beginning. Namely, as much as 80% of all people suffering from osteoarthritis can avoid surgery with the help of exercise. The first stage should therefore be visiting a physician or a physiotherapist and get a personalized training program.

What alternatives are available to for osteoarthritis surgery?

The primary treatment for pain relief from osteoarthritis is, as previously mentioned, is training and an active lifestyle. Moving and using the body parts affected by osteoarthritis is important to prevent the course of disease from getting worse and accelerating. Detecting osteoarthritis as early as possible benefits the affected person so that a plan for treating the disease can be created.

Many people are also helped by the arthritis patient education programs that can be found around the country, where training is provided about how to live with the disease. Another alternative is to download the app Joint Academy and get a program with different training exercises that you can perform at home.

Read more about acupuncture for osteoarthritis.