Question: What kinds of surgical procedures are use to treat rheumatoid arthritis or pain resulting from rheumatoid arthritis?
Answer: Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory process that results in loss of cartilage. It is different than osteoarthritis of the knee in several respects. The way it's managed is affected by the severity of the disease.
Early on in the disease process, it's really important to have an internal medicine doctor or primary care physician that is fluent in the treatment options that are available for rheumatoid arthritis. These mainly involve disease modifying agents as well as anti-inflammatories. And in some cases, a rheumatologist may be the best person to talk to about these type of medications.
When those medications are no longer successful at managing the patient's pain and dysfunction, the next step is usually some type of surgical intervention. Again early on, especially in young patients, synovectomy or actually excising the synovium from particularly the knee joint is sometimes an option. In many cases the rheumatoid arthritis will result in severe joint destruction that results in the need for either hip replacement or knee replacement surgery of traditional design.
At the end of the day, those are the most common surgical interventions that are required for treatment of end-stage rheumatoid arthritis of either the hip or the knee.