Surgery and arthritis

Surgery booklet cover photo croppedTaking the decision to have any kind of surgery is no small matter. In this section, we look at what surgery could mean for your arthritis, provide information on preparing for surgery and on the different types of procedures, and discuss what to expect from life after surgery.

This is a condensed version. To read the full version, download our Surgery and Arthritis booklet here.

As a person with arthritis, you may consider having surgery if:

  • your pain is severely affecting your quality of life
  • a joint is severely damaged 
  • you are struggling to carry out daily activities, such as dressing, shopping or working 


In this section:

Types of surgery

Joint replacements are usually very successful at relieving pain. The degree to which movement may improve will depend on how severe your arthritis is and how strong the muscles surrounding your joints are.

Examples of joint replacements include:

  • total hip replacement
  • total and partial knee
  • shoulder replacement
  • knee replacement

Hip and knee replacements are now very common procedures. Although most people undergoing these joint replacements are over the age of 65, improvements in the design and the materials used for implants mean that younger people can now also be offered replacements. A replacement hip or knee joint should last around 15-20 years, depending on wear and tear, after which revision surgery can be considered.

Other types of surgery include:

  • Synovectomy Arthroscopy
  • Arthrodesis/fusion 
  • Osteotomy
  • Carpal tunnel decompression
  • Minor surgery for arthritis
  • Hip resurfacing

Before weighing up the pros and cons with your doctor, it can be helpful to find out as much as you can about your options and about the different procedures available to you.