Other surgery

Joint replacement is the type of surgery most people think of when asked about treatment for arthritis. These include knee replacement surgery, hip replacement surgery and shoulder replacement surgery.

Surgery is successful in people with osteoarthritis but less so in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The reason for this is that rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect several joints at a time and not all of these can be treated with surgery.

Whereas osteoarthritis often affects a single or two types of joints and is suitable for surgery.

But there are other lesser known procedures which are equally as effective and can be performed as day surgery.

These include:

  • Hip or shoulder resurfacing
  • Synovectomy
  • Arthroscopy
  • Osteotomy
  • Arthrodesis
  • Cervical spinal fusion
  • Resection of metatarsal heads (bones) in the feet

Plus minor operations such as removing fluid filled cysts from the back of the wrists: repairing ruptured tendons or ligaments: the removal of painful bunions and relieving pressure in the wrist caused by an inflamed median nerve (carpal tunnel syndrome).

Hip and/or shoulder resurfacing are discussed in the relevant subsections of the main surgery section of this guide.


This is an operation to remove part or all of the synovial membrane (inner lining) of a joint.


Often defined as keyhole surgery: this procedure uses a minimally invasive approach to an injury or illness. It is performed to remove sections of damaged cartilage from a joint.


A type of surgery in which a bone is cut in order to lengthen, shorten or correct its positioning. An example of this is repairing a badly healed fracture.


The medical name for a surgical procedure in which an arthritis joint is fused together to ease pain and other symptoms.

Cervical spine fusion

Similar procedure to above in which the vertebrae discs are fixed or fused together to ease pain within that section.

Resection of metatarsal bones in the feet

This is performed in cases where the toes have become deformed preventing the ability to walk, as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. The metatarsal heads are removed to enable the person to walk.

The metatarsal heads are the ends of the bones which join to the toes.

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