The term ‘arthritis’ refers to inflammation of the joint but there are several forms of arthritis. The disease causes pain that may be mild, moderate or severe. The vast majority of patients who manage their arthritis properly never require surgery. Orthopaedic surgeons who specialise in arthritis generally treat patients who have advanced arthritis with progressive loss of the bearing surface of the joint and ultimately destruction of the joint with pain, stiffness and loss of function. Surgery may be required to relieve pain, stiffness and to improve function.
This is the most common form of arthritis and arises due to wear and tear in which the bearing surface of the joint wears thin. It is not truly hereditary but does run in families with evidence of a genetic component. This may be due to abnormal loading of a joint such as shallow sockets in the hip or it may be a defect in the bearing surface of the joint (articular cartilage). It usually affects the larger weight bearing joints. Moderate to severe osteoarthritis occurs in 8% of people aged more than 60 years. There is currently no proven medication or method to reverse or halt the progression of osteoarthritis.
Following a serious injury to a joint such as a fracture or previous surgery around the joint, arthritis may develop due to irregularities in the joint surface or alterations in the underlying bone structure or alignment of the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the inflammatory types of arthritis that affects many joints in the body. It is a systemic disease affecting the whole body but focusing in the lining of all of the joints. The joints are swollen and inflamed and the bearing surface of the knee becomes eroded.
Download our information sheet to learn more about Arthritis and treatment options.