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Surgery is generally reserved for those patients with arthritis that is particularly severe and unresponsive to the conservative treatments. Surgical procedures can be performed to relieve pain, improve function, and correct deformity. Occasionally, joint tissue is surgically removed for the purpose of biopsy and diagnosis. Doctors who specialize in joint surgery are orthopedic surgeons.
Joint surgery using a viewing tube with a cutting instrument is called arthroscopy. Osteotomy is a bone-removal procedure that can help realign some of the deformity in selected patients, usually those with knee disease. Removal of inflamed joint lining tissue is called synovectomy. In some cases, severely degenerated joints are best treated by fusion (arthrodesis) or replacement with an artificial joint (arthroplasty). "Total joint replacement" is a surgical procedure whereby a destroyed joint is replaced with artificial materials. For example, the small joints of the hand can be replaced with plastic material. Large joints, such as the hips or knees, are replaced with metals. Total hip and total knee replacements are now commonplace. These can bring dramatic pain relief and improved function.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014
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