As there are risks attached to surgery, it will probably only be suggested if the joint damage affects your ability to carry out everyday tasks and after you and your GP have explored all other treatments and self-management strategies. The main types of surgery available are joint replacement, hip resurfacing, synovectomy, arthroscopy and fusion.

Joint replacement

Joint replacements are very common and can be total or partial, depending on the degree of joint damage. Hip, knee and shoulder replacements are performed the most often, but smaller joints such as hands, elbows and ankles can also be treated. The operation involves removing all or part of the damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial joint made from plastic, ceramic or metal.

Hip resurfacing

Hip resurfacing is used for less severe damage. The surface of the joint is replaced with half a metal ball and the socket is lined with metal. As much of the underlying bone as possible is left intact.

Synovectomy

A synovectomy involves removing joint lining that is so inflamed because of RA that the joint is hard to use. It is usually performed using keyhole surgery. It isn’t a permanent cure, as the inflammation can return.

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy usually involves removing damaged cartilage using keyhole surgery and is an alternative to a full joint replacement. It is most often performed on the knees.

Fusion

Fusion involves joining together joints that are painful and difficult to move. After fusion you will no longer be able to move the joint, but it should be less painful, more stable and more able to to bear weight. It is most often used in the neck and spine, but can also be performed on smaller joints, such as fingers, wrists, toes and ankles.

Prolozone

Prolozone stimulates the production of chondrocytes and collagen, these are the primary cells the body uses to repair damaged body tissue. Alongside this, it also stimulates the deposition and activity of fibroblasts and chondroblasts.