Surgical and Medical Procedures for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Surgery may be needed when other methods do not prevent or slow damage. This can be done with:


Arthrocentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from a joint with a needle. It may help ease pain.

Joint Replacement

A joint replacement may be needed to replace a damaged joint with an artificial one. It may help maintain function. The most common joints replaced are the hip and knee.


A synovectomy removes an inflamed synovium. This is the tissue that is around a joint. It may be done with other surgery methods to ease pain and slow damage. The tissue will grow back in time.

Tendon Repair

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) swelling can cause damage to tendons. Surgery may be done to repair or replace damaged tendons with new tendon tissue. This may make it easier to move.


Arthrodesis may be done when other methods do not help. This surgery fuses 2 bones together. It may ease pain, but the joint will no longer be able to move.


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Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
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Updated September 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020.
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Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 2/16/2021

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