Can arthritis be treated without surgery?

November 27, 2017


Dr. Pankaj Walecha is a Top Orthopaedist in Delhi. He has 11 years of experience in this advanced field. Dr. Pankaj Walecha practices at Apollo Spectra Hospitals in Karol Bagh, Delhi and Apollo Spectra Hospital in East of Kailash, Delhi. He comes with expertise and tremendous knowledge in the field of orthopaedics and is in the know-how of all the latest advanced treatments/medicines available in this dynamic field. Here, he shares information about arthritis, the recent advancement in its treatments and the non-surgical alternatives available.


Arthritis is a term used for a condition where the joint starts losing its smoothness provided by the cartilage & joint fluid. Arthritis is of many types and there are patients present at different stages of the disease. The knee is the most commonly affected part because of arthritis. As the knee is a weight-bearing joint, it may lead to a significant disability if ignored. However, one should understand that not all patients with arthritis need a surgery. The treatment is usually based on many factors like type and stage of arthritis, the age of the patient, clinical symptoms of the patient, etc. Moreover, X-rays provide us with very useful information about the radiological condition of the joint. However, one cannot provide treatment just on the basis of an X-ray.

If the patients approach the doctor at an early or moderate stage of the disease, then the joint can be saved without a surgery. If you are suffering from knee pain or other symptoms of arthritis, it is very important to see a specialist doctor as early as possible. Only in this case does one have a chance of saving the joint without surgery.

Preventive Lifestyle Changes

Although pain medicines can be taken with a doctor’s advice for a short duration, in the long run, self-medication can be very dangerous. It can lead to the gastric ulcers & damage to the kidneys in a very short time. Joint supplements are also used to make the cartilage stronger. Sometimes, postural modifications also help in preventing further damage of the joint. In many cases special kinds of elastic knee braces are also recommended, but with variable results. Patients with arthritis must avoid high impact activities like running on hard surfaces and playing badminton etc. These small changes in lifestyle can go a long way in preventing the advancement of arthritis.

Non-Surgical Treatments

The most important part of non-operative treatments is to do regular exercises which keep the joint well balanced by maintaining the tone & strength of the muscles. It also gives free movement of the joint and a better range of motion. Physiotherapy along with the exercises is another important tool.

You can follow our simple yet effective knee exercise videos on YouTube here:

Viscosupplementation- a joint lubricant injection- can be used to improve the health of the joint in carefully selected patients. It provides nutrition to the weak cartilage to make it stronger and also improves the smoothness of the joint movement. It has been shown that its effect usually lasts for 6-9 months. This injection can be repeated after a year. A new innovation, the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection is also injected into the joint for treating knee pain. This is prepared from the patient’s own blood and has produced good results throughout the country. Of late, it has also become a great interest and point of discussion amongst us orthopaedic doctors. This technique uses the body’s own healing potential to its advantage. And also has a great scope for further advancements.

However, all these therapies/treatments can be offered only to those patients whose arthritis condition has been detected at an early stage. In advanced stages of arthritis, surgical treatment remains the only option- so it is very important to see a specialist doctor as soon as possible to prolong the life of your natural knee.

Related Post: Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis