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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Surgery for Osteoarthritis Joint Pain

Total Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty) continued...

Benefits: Improvements include:

  • Relief of joint pain when other options haven't worked
  • Better, easier joint movement
  • Realignment of deformed joints, improving how they work and look.

New joints typically last between 10 and 15 years. When they wear out, you can get the joint replaced.

Risks: The risks depend on your medical history, including any bone problems, and your tendency to form blood clots.

Recovery: While you're still in the hospital, expect to begin walking with crutches or a walker. You will take medicine for pain. You may start physical therapy the day after surgery. Gentle exercises will help strengthen the muscles around the new joint and improve your ability to move it.


What happens: During this operation, which is done most often on the knee, your surgeon will make cuts to the bones near your joint. The goal is to shift weight to the parts of your knee that are stronger, sections with less damage from osteoarthritis. Your surgeon may take out a wedge of your shinbone, too.

Osteotomy can be an alternative to joint replacement, especially if you have much more damage to the knee joint on one side or problems with bone alignment in your hip. Osteotomy may also be an option for people who are too young for joint replacement.

After the surgery, you'll spend at least two hours in the recovery room. Most people who have osteotomy spend two to four days recovering in the hospital.

Benefits: Besides helping to correct the knee deformity, osteotomy may help:

  • Relieve joint pain and symptoms
  • Slow down osteoarthritis by taking some stress off the knee
  • Delay the need for joint replacement in younger, active people with osteoarthritis pain


  • A failure of the bones to heal or failure to heal properly
  • Blood clotting
  • Bleeding in the joint
  • Inflammation of joint tissues, nerve damage, or infection

Recovery: The knee will be bandaged and iced after an osteotomy. It's common to have night sweats or a fever of up to 101F. You'll receive pain medicine either by mouth or by IV.

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