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Surgical and Non-Surgical Options for Joint Pain

Feb 26, 2015

If you’re dealing with a great deal of pain in your joints, you may be suffering from a serious injury. It’s crucial to see your doctor immediately for an evaluation. He or she will determine why you’re having pain and what type of treatment is necessary to help you feel better soon.

The joints in your body are the points where bones come together. The ends of your bones are coated in articular cartilage that provides cushioning to make it comfortable when the bones move against each other. In an unhealthy joint, the cartilage wears away and causes the ends of the bones to rub together without any cushioning. Not only is this painful for the patient, but the bones constantly rubbing against each other can be dangerous for the bones.

If you have experienced any of the following symptoms, you may be dealing with joint damage and should seek treatment immediately:

  • Stiffness
  • Pain while at rest
  • Pain during movement
  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • Inability to utilize the limb attached to the affected joint

While you’re seeking treatment for your damaged joints, it’s crucial to decide whether surgical or non-surgical methods are the best choice for you. It’s usually best to try out all non-surgical treatment options before undergoing invasive joint replacement surgery.

Surgical Options

If you’ve undergone non-surgical treatment methods to address your joint pain and haven’t had success, it may be time to consider surgery. It’s best to discuss this with your doctor and learn as much about the surgical process as you can. Some of your options may include the following:

Arthroscopic Surgery

This procedure is where a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, is inserted into small incisions around the joint. The image is then broadcast to a larger screen so the surgeon can see inside the joint. Your surgeon will use miniature tools to operate on the joint, and because the incisions are small, the recovery time is minimal.

Total Replacement Surgery

When your joint is completely damaged, it must be removed. In a total replacement surgery, a surgeon will remove your damaged bones and replace the working parts with metal, plastic, or ceramic components. This surgery will have your joint working properly with the help of physical therapy and exercise.

Non-Surgical Options


Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist could improve your flexibility, reduce pain, and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to take stress off of them. Your physical therapist will instruct you to perform a series of repetitive exercises that will become increasingly more difficult as you grow stronger.

Medication or Cortisone Shots

Some people take over-the-counter medication to reduce their pain. While this will not treat your injury, it will help you feel more comfortable. Your doctor may also recommend cortisone or steroid shots to relieve your pain for longer periods of time.

Exercise and Lose Weight

If you’re dealing with an injury and pain in the hip or knee joint, losing weight could reduce your pain drastically. Starting a workout regimen and healthy diet can help you achieve your goals and relieve the added strain on your joints.

If you’re dealing with joint pain, you can find relief. Be sure to speak with your orthopaedic physician to learn about the best option for you.

To find out how to pick the right orthopaedic surgeon, download our e-book, How to Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon.