Arthritis is a medical condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints.
Arthritis is a very common condition in Australia affecting people of all ages and from all walks of life.
There are over 150 arthritic conditions, mainly affecting weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees.
Arthritis is not yet curable.
Symptoms often have a big impact on the daily lives of people, and although arthritis can be difficult to live with there are many measures that can help anyone manage their symptoms.
Arthritis related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each other) and surrounding structures. This can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities that can interfere with the most basic daily tasks.
Arthritis is one of the major causes of disability and chronic pain in Australia with 3.85 million Australians affected at a cost to our economy of more that $23.9 billion each year in medical care and indirect costs such as loss of earnings and lost production.
There is a widely held belief that arthritis is simply a consequence of age, the pain of growing old. But it is not a natural part of ageing. In fact 2.4 million of all people suffering from the disease are of working age.
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis and juvenile arthritis.
The most common types of surgery for arthritis include;
Arthrodesis – fusing (joining) the two bones forming the joint together. As the fused joint cannot be moved it is no longer painful. This type of surgery is most commonly done on ankles, wrists, fingers or thumbs.
Arthroscopy – (key hole surgery). The surgeons uses a telescope to see directly into the joint. The cause of the symptoms can be seen and sometimes be treated (for example, remove or repair torn cartilage). This type of surgery is usually done on the knee or shoulder.
Osteotomy – Involves cutting and repositioning a bone. This can help put the joint into better alignment and reduce pressure on the affected side of the joint. This type of surgery is usually done on knees and occasionally hips.
Resection – is the removal of part or all of a bone or an entire joint. This is often done for damaged joints in the foot and big toe.
Joint Replacement – is also called arthroplasty. This involves the removal of damaged surfaces of the joint. These surfaces are then replaced with metal, ceramic or plastic parts. The entire joint can be replaced (total arthroplasty) or just one part of the joint (hemiarthroplasty). Joint replacements can be done on knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, fingers, ankles, toes and even the spine.
When should I talk to my doctor about joint surgery?
If you have any of the following signs you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of surgery;
- You have pain that stops you going to sleep at night.
– Your pain does not improve with rest, medicines, exercise or other treatments.
– Your affected joint makes it difficult for you to look after yourself (such as showering, getting dressed, preparing meals, getting out of a chair) and you require help from others for everyday tasks.
– Your condition makes it difficult for you to work or look after people who require your care.
– Your pain is keeping you from doing things you enjoy, such as exercising or doing hobbies.
An orthopaedic surgeon will assess you and recommend whether or not you will benefit from surgery. In some cases surgery may not be recommended.
If you believe you are suffering from arthritis or any other joint condition please contact us at Adelaide Orthopaedic and Trauma Specialists. Ph (08) 7325 4800, www.aots.net.au
Our surgeons can assess your symptoms and give you advise on the best course of treatment to get you back moving again, free of pain.