Surgery: Several types of surgery are
available to patients with severe joint damage. The primary purpose of these procedures
is to reduce pain, improve the affected joint's function, and improve the patient's
ability to perform daily activities. Surgery is not for everyone, however, and the
decision should be made only after careful consideration by patient and doctor.
Together they should discuss the patient's overall health, the condition of the
joint or tendon that will be operated on, and the reason for, as well as the risks
and benefits of, the surgical procedure. Cost may be another factor. Commonly performed
surgical procedures include joint replacement, tendon reconstruction, and synovectomy.
Joint replacement: This is the most frequently
performed surgery for rheumatoid arthritis, and it is done primarily to relieve
pain and improve or preserve joint function. Artificial joints are not always permanent
and may eventually have to be replaced. This may be an important consideration for
Tendon reconstruction: Rheumatoid arthritis can damage
and even rupture tendons, the tissues that attach muscle to bone. This surgery,
which is used most frequently on the hands, reconstructs the damaged tendon by attaching
an intact tendon to it. This procedure can help to restore hand function, especially
if the tendon is completely ruptured.
Synovectomy: In this surgery, the doctor
actually removes the inflamed synovial tissue. Synovectomy by itself is seldom performed
now because not all of the tissue can be removed, and it eventually grows back.
Synovectomy is done as part of reconstructive surgery, especially tendon reconstruction.
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases -