Surgery for Rheumatic Diseases

If drugs, physical or occupational therapy, or assistive devices (such as canes or braces) do not provide enough control over rheumatic diseases, surgery may be an option.

In the case of arthritis, surgery can be used to repair or remove a diseased or damaged joint. It can be used to fuse the bones in a joint or replace joints with artificial ones.

Surgery is not an option for some rheumatic conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or fibromyalgia.

Cedars-Sinai's rheumatologists can help guide you in selecting the appropriate drugs, rehabilitation or surgical options available to you. While surgery may not cure your arthritis, replacing severely diseased joints can provide enormous relief and allow you to return to an active lifestyle. Surgical options for treating rheumatic conditions include:

  • In recent years, joint replacement surgery has become the most important surgical treatment for arthritis. Although hip joints are the most commonly replaced joints, replacements can be done for knee, shoulder, elbow, finger or ankle joints.
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone or cartilage that may cause pain or "locked" joints that do not allow normal movement. The procedure is usually done with an arthroscope, a small tube inserted into the joint through which the surgeon works. Additionally, surgery can reposition your bones to help correct deformities, permanent fuse bones to increase stability and reduce pain. The fused joint, however, has no flexibility.