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Osteoarthritis surgery : considering joint replacement

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease for which only the symptoms can be treated with drugs. To recover freedom of movement and overcome disability caused by severe osteoarthritis, surgery can be considered as a last resort.

What is osteoarthritis ?

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease resulting in the progressive destruction of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones and enables them to slide over each other. As the disease progresses, it causes pain and increased loss of mobility.

To clearly understand the disease, its causes and symptoms, you can read our article “Osteoarthritis : cartilage wear and tear“.

Progression and treatement

Osteoarthritis does not progress linearly. Furthermore, the damage does not regress, so it can only get worse, even if it is very gradually.

It can progress very slowly and not result in disability, but in some very severe cases, joint replacement may be required within only a few years.

Medicinal treatments can relieve the symptoms, but there is nothing yet available that tackles the progression of the disease itself:

  • analgesics can be administered to relieve the pain,
  • a physician can prescribe non steroidal anti-inflammatories or carry out corticosteroid infiltrations (injection of powerful anti-inflammatories directly in the joint) to treat the inflammatory phases,
  • within the context of long-term treatments, which are less powerful but longer lasting, chondroitin sulfate or glucosamine sulfate, avocado and soybean unsaponifiables or even diacerein can be prescribed.

Other solutions are available, such as hyaluronic acid injections or tidal lavage, but they are still controversial.

Osteoarthritis : joint replacement

With severe osteoarthritis, and to treat the resulting disability, an implant can considerably improve the patient’s quality of life.

To understand the functioning, implications and expected results of the surgical treatment of osteoarthritis, you can read our articles on the subject:

Hip osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis

Elbow osteoarthritis