Question: When should I consider joint surgery to treat pain resulting for rheumatoid arthritis?
Answer: Joint surgery for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis should be considered early in the disease if this is indicated. Years ago, we would tell patients to wait as long as they could. But now the vision of the benefits that you can encounter with these types of surgeries has changed. What we know now is that if you wait until you are totally disabled in bed without moving, then your muscles de-condition. And you don't get as much benefit when you go through, for example, a joint replacement. So the recovery period then will be extremely difficult. If you do it early into the condition then you might be able to take advantage of these techniques and be able to work on your rehabilitation with a better outcome. Again, this is very variable and you have to discuss this with your rheumatologist and with your orthopedist. But be aware that this is an alternative to treatment that you could consider.