Most people who have arthritis may never need surgery. However, if your joints are very damaged and other treatment is not helping, surgery may be suggested. If this is the case, you will be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon.

Possible operations include:

  • Replacing a badly damaged joint with an artificial joint
  • Removing the inflamed lining of the joint cavity
  • Removing the painful coverings from tendons or repairing damaged tendons
  • Removing bone to relieve pain
  • Releasing trapped nerves
  • Fusing a joint to make it more stable

Once you have recovered from your operation, you will probably find it easier and less painful to move around.

The 2 most common surgical procedures carried out to treat Arthritis are Joint replacements and Knee arthroscopies.


Joint replacements are the most common form of surgery for arthritis, with hip and knee replacements the most popular. Ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers can also be replaced.

Almost 65,000 hip replacements and 68,500 knee replacements were done in the UK during 2006-2007. Joint replacements are very successful operations and should last at least 10-15 years before revision surgery is needed – often longer if you treat them with respect. 

Joint replacement operations sometimes fail and you may need another operation. Although these are increasingly successful, very occasionally the replacement joint has to be removed. This can lead to considerable disability.


Who is it for?

Arthroscopy is beneficial in patients with early osteoarthritis, where symptoms are mild or intermittent. Patients with advanced disease are unlikely to benefit from this procedure.

What does it involve?

Knee arthroscopy is done under general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic as a day case procedure. Usual duration of surgery is 20 to 30 minutes and most patients are able to go home on the day of surgery. No stitches are required and the small incisions of surgery heal up in 7 to 10 days.


Mr Nadim Aslam, Knee and Hip Specialist