Arthritis Joint Pain Relief & Surgical Treatment

By Dr. Stuart Gold, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon & Author

Millions of people suffer from joint pain and the numbers are increasing dramatically. Arthritis, degeneration of the joint surfaces, is the primary cause. Joints wear out primarily as a result of too much load; i.e. high impact activity and size. Genetics plays a role as well. Obesity is partially to blame for this dramatic rise. The human body was not designed to carry excessive weight and obese people are suffering from arthritis in record numbers. What most people do not understand is arthritis can afflict joints in any part of the body.

There are many arthritic conditions, but most end up in two common categories. The two main groups are Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory arthritic condition and Osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This form of arthritis is painful, and severe cases become debilitating. The affected area has a loss of motion and becomes stiff. As a result of inflammation there is a decrease in motion and thus a loss of function. In severe cases, the organs may be affected along with bone. There is no known cure for this disease.

  • Treatment. Treatment includes a host of pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, a restricted diet and exercise. Many people are fortunate to go into remission after about 24 months, but for many others it will be a life long battle. There are many developed drugs for Rheumatoid arthritis; however, many people are non-responsive to these drugs. For most of these people, surgery will be required
  • Surgical Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Hand surgery is common in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis. This surgery is performed to correct the loss of joint function as the fingers become deformed. This surgery often will relieve most of the pain but more importantly, allow patients to carry out their activities of daily living. The most common surgery is joint replacement or arthroplasty, which is performed to replace all or part of the joint in the knee or hip. Synovectomy is often performed to remove inflamed tissue in the joint.  Arthroscopy is quite a common surgery as well. This surgery removes inflamed tissue and debris that may be causing severe pain and discomfort.


This form of arthritis typically forms in such areas as the hips, knees, ankles, feet and shoulders. This is a degenerative disease, which means the joint cartilage is destroyed over time. This severely limits a person's range of motion and often hinders movement. Most significantly it is a major cause of pain with activity and in advanced stages even at rest. There is no known cure for this disease.

  • Treatment. The treatment regimen is similar to that of Rheumatoid arthritis. Weight control and exercise are a crucial part of the treatment along with pain medications or pain relief techniques. Neither of these treatments cures the problem, but temporizes the symptoms. Many people have even turned toward alternative therapies to get relief from the pain and discomfort. Due to the degenerative nature of this disease, surgery is often necessary.
  • Surgical Treatment for Osteoarthritis. Arthrodesis is a surgical procedure performed to fuse bones together if the joint cannot be replaced. Arthroplasty is the replacing of joints in the knee or hips. This procedure is very common and in most cases, people can lead a normal life. In some cases, it may restrict their movement. Arthroscopy is also performed on patients that are suffering from Osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy in these cases only buys some time before more definitive treatment, an arthroplasty, is recommended.

Statistics vary on all of these surgeries; however, all tend to be very successful. Hip replacement surgery as an approximate success rate of 97 percent.  Knee replacement surgery also is very successful; however, the recovery is much more prolonged and therapy dependent. Many of these surgeries have been performed so often they are considered routine.

When faced with constant arthritis joint pain and standard treatments fail, then surgery may be a person's best option. The key is to be well informed and educate your self on the procedures. Most Orthopedic surgeons will explain every step of the procedure and explain the results that you should expect. Surgery is frightening for everyone no matter how minor the procedure. If you are facing the choice of surgery, make sure you are thoroughly informed about all treatments available before making a decision.

To learn more about surgery for arthritis and join pain relief, please click here.