The aim of this report was to review the use of orthopedic surgeries performed to manage rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our review of studies published in English indicates that there has been a decrease in RA-associated surgeries in Western countries. Improvements in medical treatment may partly explain the reduction in numbers of orthopedic joint surgeries, which also suggests a worldwide trend toward improved long-term outcomes. However, the results of our multicenter study in Japan indicate that the number of RA-associated operations has not decreased, and that the numbers of operations performed annually have been relatively stable from 1998 to 2008. Although there definitely has been a decline in the numbers of synovectomy surgeries, the numbers of operations on the upper limbs and foot arthroplasties have increased. With the trend toward milder disease because of improved medical treatment, we speculate that RA patients may want and need better function for the activities of daily living. The combination of medical treatment and surgical intervention is thought to improve outcomes in RA patients who will develop joint destruction. Additional studies, including analyses of RA databases containing long-term data on a variety of surgical interventions, are needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas