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When Is Surgery Right for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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When Is Hip Replacement Surgery Needed?

Hip replacement surgery is usually done when all other treatment options have failed to help. The procedure should relieve a painful hip joint, making it easier to walk.

Hip replacement surgery can be done with a bigger or smaller cut. The smaller cut means less blood loss, less pain following surgery, a shorter hospital stay, a smaller scar, and faster healing.

What Other Surgeries Are Used for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • Carpal tunnel release. This can ease the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand and arm.
  • Synovectomy. Doctors remove the joint lining (the “synovium”) so it doesn’t erode cartilage and bone. You may need to get the procedure again if the joint lining grows back.
  • Bone or joint fusion surgery. Doctors call this procedure arthrodesis. It’s done to curb pain in the ankles, wrists, fingers, thumbs, or spine. The surgeon fuses two bones on each end of a joint, eliminating the joint itself.

What Should I Do to Prepare for RA Surgery?

  • Your doctor may temporarily stop some of your medications to help you avoid infection.
  • You may need to stop aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs a week or so before the operation. You may also need to stop some supplements, so tell your doctor what you take.
  • Before knee or hip surgery, your doctor may ask you to practice walking on crutches to strengthen your arm muscles.
  • You may need to give blood in advance in case you need it during the surgery.

There are several things you can do to lower your risk of complications during surgery and improve your recovery.

  • If you have any tooth or gum disease, have it treated before the surgery. This helps prevent infection from the bacteria in your mouth.
  • If it hurts to pee, tell your doctor. If you have a urinary tract infection, it should be treated before the surgery.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This will give you the energy and nutrition you need to heal faster.
  • Exercise. People who are fit do better after surgery.
  • If you smoke, quit! Stopping smoking reduces the risk of complications from surgery.
  • Try to lose extra weight if you are going to get joint replacement surgery. Less weight means less stress on the artificial hip or knee, so it will last longer.
  • Prepare your home. You will need someone to help you with cooking, cleaning, and shopping while you recover. To make falls less likely, tape down loose carpets or electrical cords.
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