Does Arthroscopy Treat Arthritis?

As people get older, many experience the aches and pains of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage, the spongey, protective covering at the end of bones, starts to wear away. Arthroscopy is a common, minimally invasive treatment option for many joint conditions. But is the procedure right for osteoarthritis?

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What happens during arthroscopy?

In an arthroscopy, a surgeon makes a few small incisions around the joint, then inserts a camera and small surgical tools through the incisions. Commonly, a healthcare provider may use arthroscopy to remove debris or repair part of a person’s meniscus.

Does it work for arthritis pain?

Experts have found that arthroscopy isn’t generally an effective treatment for arthritis pain. Most patients with arthritis don’t find that arthroscopy relieves pain. Any pain relief is usually temporary. There are some rare exceptions, such as when someone with arthritis also has a tear in the meniscus or loose bone fragments in a joint.

What are my other treatment options?

There are many other effective treatments for arthritis pain. Early treatments may include lifestyle changes, exercise, physical therapy, or pain medications. Some patients may also benefit from steroid or hyaluronic acid injections.

Turning to surgical treatment

When conservative treatments don’t effectively treat arthritis pain, a healthcare provider may recommend surgery. There are several procedures that may treat arthritis. Patients may benefit from cartilage repair procedures. Some may benefit from osteotomy, in which a surgeon repositions the joint to relieve pressure and pain.

Is it time for a new joint?

One of the most common treatments for arthritis is joint replacement surgery. Some patients need a full joint replacement, in which a surgeon replaces the entire joint with prosthetic parts. Others benefit from a partial replacement, in which only the damaged portion of the joint is replaced. Partial replacements can be very effective for some patients, but the surgery isn’t an option for everyone.

Tips to manage arthritis pain

No matter the stage or severity of arthritis, managing the pain can be challenging. In general, a few guidelines can help. Achieving and maintaining a healthy bodyweight can relieve some pressure on the joints. Additionally, quitting smoking is essential. Many people also benefit from daily stretching, low-impact cardiovascular exercise, and over-the-counter pain medications.

Will joint pain get worse as I get older?

Arthritis is a pain progressive condition, meaning symptoms tend to worsen over time. Appropriate treatment can help. Many patients find that a well-rounded treatment plan reduces or relieves pain. A healthcare provider can provide personalized recommendations for joint pain relief.

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