Surgical and Medical Procedures for Osteoarthritis
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Injections may be needed to treat severe joint pain. They may be given to people who are not helped by other methods. They can give short term relief. They may need to be repeated to maintain benefits. They may not be right for people with some types of OA.
Intra-articular Corticosteroid Injections
Corticosteroids (steroids) can ease inflammation and pain. They can be injected directly into the joint.
They may be repeated again in several months. Using steroids too often can cause a breakdown of tissue in the joint. Injections are often limited to 3 to 4 in a year.
This injection uses a substance called hyaluronic acid. It is a chemical found in normal cartilage and joint fluid. The injections are thought to help lubricate the joint. It allows better gliding of the joint and eases pain and stiffness.
Surgery cannot treat OA. It may be needed to repair, rebuild, or replace damaged joints. It is only used on people who are not helped by other methods.
Surgery may help to:
Several tiny incisions are made on or near the joint. A small lighted camera is inserted through one incision. Small surgical instruments are passed through a second incision. These instruments are used to clean out the joint. It may include removing shards of bone and cartilage that might be causing problems.
This surgery helps to repair deformed joints. It is most often done for the knee, thigh bone, or leg bone. The joint will be realigned. It will change the balance of weight on the joint. The healthy areas of cartilage will then be able to bear more weight. This will put less pressure on the damaged tissue.
Arthroplasty replaces part or all of the damaged joint. It is also called a joint replacement. A synthetic joint or devices will be used. The replacement is often made of chromium alloy and plastic. The replacement is done to ease pain and improve function.
Arthrodesis may be done on people who are not helped by other methods. It is considered as a last option. The two bones of the joint are permanently fused together. It can greatly improve pain. However, it also prevents normal movement of the joint.
Hip arthroscopy. OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/hip-arthroscopy. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Jüni P, Hari R, et al. Intraarticular corticosteroid for knee osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD005328. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005328.pub3. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Knee arthroscopy. OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/knee-arthroscopy. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoarthritis. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteoarthritis-oa-of-the-hip. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/osteoarthritis-oa-of-the-knee. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 8/24/2021
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