Only a doctor can tell if you need a joint replaced. He or she will look at your joint with an x-ray machine or another machine. The doctor may put a small, lighted tube (arthroscope) into your joint to look for damage. A small sample of your tissue could also be tested.
After looking at your joint, the doctor may say that you should consider exercise, walking aids such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or medicines and vitamin supplements. Medicines for arthritis include drugs that reduce inflammation. Depending on the type of arthritis, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs However, all drugs may cause side effects, including bone loss.
If these treatments do not work, the doctor may suggest an operation called an osteotomy (pronounced aas-tee-AAHT-oh-me), where the surgeon "aligns" the joint. Here, the surgeon cuts the bone or bones around the joint to improve alignment. This may be simpler than replacing a joint, but it may take longer to recover. However, this operation is not commonly done today.
Joint replacement is often the answer if you have constant pain and can't move the joint well – for example, if you have trouble with things such as walking, climbing stairs, and taking a bath.
Disclaimer: The information provided here should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. The information is provided solely for educational purpose and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice.