Arthroplasty for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthroplasty is surgery done to reconstruct
or replace a diseased joint. For
rheumatoid arthritis, arthroplasty is done to restore
function to a joint or correct a deformity. Bones in a joint can be reshaped,
or all or part of the joint can be replaced with metal or plastic parts.
What To Expect After Surgery
Recovery following arthroplasty may
involve a 2- to 14-day hospital stay. Depending on the joint, rehabilitation
may take several weeks to several months.
Why It Is Done
Surgery such as arthroplasty will not
cure rheumatoid arthritis, nor will it stop disease activity. But if a joint is
badly diseased, surgery may provide pain relief and improve function.1 Arthroplasty is considered when:
- Symptoms can no longer be controlled with
medicine, joint injections, physical therapy, and exercise.
from rheumatoid arthritis can no longer be tolerated.
- You are not
able to do normal daily activities.
- Narrowing of the joint space or
wearing away of the cartilage and bone is causing severe pain or reduced range
How Well It Works
Arthroplasty can relieve pain and
restore enough function in a joint to allow a person to do normal daily
Risks of arthroplasty include the risks of
surgery and using anesthetic and the risks of:
- Infection developing in the artificial joint
(requires removal of the artificial joint and treatment of the
- Development of blood clots (thrombophlebitis).
- Loosening of the
What To Think About
For more information on total knee
and hip replacement surgery, see the topic Osteoarthritis.
of arthroplasty depends in part on whether a person follows a rehabilitation
program after surgery.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Firestein GS (2007). Rheumatoid arthritis. In DC Dale,
DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 2.
New York: WebMD.
Lipsky PE (2008). Rheumatoid arthritis. In AS Fauci et
al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine,
17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2083-2092. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
||June 11, 2010