When do we talk about surgery?
Arthritis tends to be a progressive process, and most patients experience a steady worsening of symptoms over time. Most all non operative treatments tend to be a "Band-aid," aimed at lessening the symptoms, but will not cure the disease. If our non-operative methods have failed we begin to have discussions about surgery.
In most cases, Arthroscopy, or less invasive surgery through small incisions, to “clean out the joint,” is not a very good option for advanced arthritis. We know that performing arthroscopy on an arthritic knee can make symptoms worse. Arthroscopy is reserved for those with mild arthritis and mechanical problems, like a loose body (usually a chunk of cartilage)or meniscus tear (the cartilage gasket in the knee).
The most reliable, long lasting treatment for arthritis is to cure the process by removing the arthritic portions of the joint and resurfacing it with a Joint Replacement. This is a surgery where most patients spend one night in the hospital. It is generally safe and is very highly effective. There is a reason that joint replacement is one of our most common surgical procedures.