Arthritis – it’s one of the most common conditions to plague our patients. Some patients visit our office experiencing extreme pain due to joint deterioration, hoping that they can find relief. Luckily, arthritis treatments have significantly improved over the years, with surgery remaining the last resort in our medical toolkit. Before a doctor recommends arthritis surgery, a patient can expect to go through a series of other treatments meant to relieve pain without the invasive nature of a full joint replacement. In other words – we won’t force you to go through a lengthy recovery period unless it is absolutely necessary.
For those who do require surgery, however, improvements have been made over the years to streamline both the surgical procedures and healing process. While patients may experience downtime for recovery, don’t expect to spend months laying around on the couch – you will likely be up and moving much faster than you would imagine.
There are two types of arthritis that most people are familiar with – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both types of arthritis deal with the degeneration of the joints in the body and can both be very painful; however, the causes of each type of arthritis are very different.
Osteoarthritis is, by far, the most common form of the condition. It’s sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis because it is caused by an accumulation of wear on the joints due to lifestyle choices. In the case of osteoarthritis, onset is usually gradual and occurs later in life, with joints that are sore but not always swollen.
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is less common and caused by an autoimmune response in the body. In this case, joint damage results from a patient’s immune system attacking the joints and onset can be swift. Rheumatoid arthritis can happen at any point in a patient’s life, with painful, swollen joints appearing over a period of weeks along with a general feeling of malaise.
In the case of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, there are several treatment options available that don’t involve surgery. Before considering surgery, our doctors will assess the severity of your arthritis along with your current lifestyle to determine whether there are ways to control symptoms without resulting to invasive procedures. Some options may include:
We don’t take the possibility of exposing patients to invasive procedures lightly. Whenever possible, we try to keep our clients on a treatment path that will allow them to lead the daily lifestyle they are used to living. But sometimes arthritis becomes so painful and intrusive in its own right that patients aren’t able to participate in activities they used to enjoy. When patients have tried non-invasive treatments to no avail, and their quality of life is beginning to suffer, it’s time to discuss your options for arthritis surgery with your doctor.
When you and your doctor decide on a surgical option, your doctor will provide all the information you’ll need for the actual surgery and the recovery process. Know that the more invasive procedures like joint replacement or osteotomy will require you to have additional help for getting around the house and doing everyday chores. Planning ahead to make daily tasks like meal preparation, dressing and bathing easier makes the whole process much more pleasant.
If you have arthritis, Charlottesville Orthopaedic Center is here to help. Click here to schedule an appointment today.