Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. When cartilage breaks down, bones rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement. Osteoarthritis affects people of all ages, with symptoms increasing sharply around age 45.
Treatment often depends on the joints involved. Exercise and physical therapy can be beneficial in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis by improving muscle strength and regaining motion in stiff joints. Medicines and other lifestyle changes can also improve symptoms.
Surgery for osteoarthritis
In some cases, surgery can be the best treatment option for osteoarthritis. The most common joint surgeries for osteoarthritis are arthroscopy and joint replacement.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that is generally helpful for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of osteoarthritis. A small instrument allows surgeons to see inside a joint and repair problems through a very small incision.
Joint replacement surgery can be a solution for patients with advanced osteoarthritis. During joint replacement, the rough, worn surfaces of the joint are relined with smooth-surfaced metal and plastic components. Patients often experience reduced pain and improved function.
Knee and shoulder replacement surgery
The knee is one of the most common joints to develop osteoarthritis. Orthopedic surgeons consider total knee replacement to be the most successful of the joint replacements.
In a knee replacement, a metal cap is placed on the end of the femur (thigh) and a metal tray on the top of the tibia (shin). A plastic insert is then placed between the two metal pieces. The metal covers the nerve endings in the bone, and the plastic provides lubrication so that the joint moves smoothly and without pain.
Arthritis is the most common reason for people to have shoulder replacement surgery. Patients with bone-on-bone arthritis and intact rotator cuff tendons are generally good candidates for conventional total shoulder replacement. Total shoulder replacement surgery replaces the damaged bone and cartilage with metal and plastic implants.
Talk to your doctor to learn which treatment options are right for you.
Learn more about joint services at The Christ Hospital.