Considering osteoarthritis surgery?

Considering osteoarthritis surgery?
December 30
10:45 2020

By Novant Health

More than 32.5 million American adults have osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the condition that’s treated most often by Dr. Slade Moore of Novant Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Kernersville. Moore recently addressed several questions about joint pain to help people better understand this condition.

Where do people feel pain from osteoarthritis?

If the problem is in the hip joint, they may feel it in the front of their leg or the groin area, or sometimes the buttocks. Knee arthritis can vary, but the pain is usually felt in the front of the knee. Hand osteoarthritis usually affects the first two joints – those at the end of the fingers.

Osteoarthritis is typically more of a deep ache that can radiate from where it originates, but it doesn’t radiate far. People with osteoarthritis can feel a change in their condition when there’s a change in the weather. 

What are the first non-surgical options you might take before surgery?

That depends on the severity. Low-impact aerobics is a good place to start. And weight loss if a patient’s BMI is over 25. Every pound lost helps. Every pound gained increases the stress on the hip or knee by four to six pounds. 

Exercise is also a big one. Too many people have let their exercise habits go since the COVID-19 pandemic. Those with osteoarthritis have had flare-ups because they’re less active and may have put on weight. The best and simplest thing you can do is get out and walk.

Anti-inflammatories can help, too – ibuprofen, Aleve, Celebrex. But they can have side effects. People with high blood pressure, kidney disease or a history of ulcers should be careful. Tylenol is not an anti-inflammatory, but it can help. There’s also a topical anti-inflammatory called Voltaren, available over the counter, that can help – especially with joints closer to the skin.

We can also try cortisone injections, but they need to be used judiciously. One every two years would be about right in many cases, and they should not be given if symptoms are mild. Studies show that cortisone injections can actually worsen arthritis if given when a patient’s condition is mild.

What’s your advice about supplements? 

Turmeric is a good adjunct and has little to no side effects. Same with fish oil. Studies haven’t shown glucosamine to be effective relief for osteoarthritis. 

When is surgery appropriate?

When your bad days outnumber your good days. Surgery is not intended for mild or moderate cases.

Whether or not you choose surgery also depends on your age and goals. If you’re in your 80s and mostly sedentary, you may not want to have knee surgery. There are risks associated with it, and patients should discuss the pros and cons with a doctor.

A decision about surgery also depends on what joint needs to be replaced. It’s counterintuitive, but a hip replacement is much easier than a knee replacement. Most people can walk with a cane two weeks after having a hip replaced. Knees are still healing up to 18 months after surgery. There’s more rehab involved with a knee, and it’s more intense.

We hope some of your questions have been answered and you find the suggestions helpful. For more information, visit

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