All Medical Procedures

A knee brace for osteoarthritis may help reduce pain by shifting your weight off the most damaged portion of your knee. This may improve your ability to get around and help increase the distance you can walk comfortably.

Knee braces come in a variety of designs, but most are constructed with a combination of rigid and flexible materials — plastic, metal or other composite material for basic structure and support, and synthetic rubber or moldable foam for padding and positioning.

Knee osteotomy is a surgical procedure that may be recommended if you have arthritis damage in just one area of your knee. The procedure involves removing or adding a wedge of bone to your upper shinbone (tibia) or lower thighbone (femur) to help shift your body weight off the damaged portion of your knee joint.

Knee osteotomy is most commonly performed on people who may be considered too young for a total knee replacement. Total knee replacements wear out much more quickly in people younger than 55 than in people older than 70.

Many people who undergo knee osteotomy will eventually need a total knee replacement — usually about 10 to 15 years after the knee osteotomy.

Knee replacement surgery — also known as knee arthroplasty (ARTH-row-plas-tee) — can help relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints. During knee replacement, a surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.

The first artificial knees were little more than crude hinges. Now, you and your doctor can choose from a wide variety of designs that take into account your age, weight, activity level and overall health. Most knee replacement joints attempt to replicate your knee's natural ability to roll and glide as it bends.

Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is performed in your lower back, in the lumbar region. During lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid — the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord to protect them from injury.

A lumbar puncture can help diagnose serious infections, such as meningitis; other disorders of the central nervous system, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis; or cancers of the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes doctors use lumbar puncture to inject anesthetic medications or chemotherapy drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid.

Radiofrequency neurotomy is a procedure to reduce back and neck pain. Heat generated by radio waves is used to target specific nerves and temporarily interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals.

The radio waves are delivered to the targeted nerves via needles inserted through the skin above your spine. Imaging scans are used during radiofrequency neurotomy to help the doctor position the needles precisely.

Radiofrequency neurotomy works better in some people than in others. Tests may be needed to determine if the nerves commonly targeted by radiofrequency neurotomy are the same nerves responsible for your pain.

A rheumatoid factor test measures the amount of rheumatoid factor in your blood. Rheumatoid factors are proteins produced by your immune system that can attack healthy tissue in your body.

High levels of rheumatoid factor in the blood are most often associated with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome. But rheumatoid factor may be detected in some healthy people, and people with autoimmune diseases sometimes have normal levels of rheumatoid factor.

Spinal fusion is surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in your spine, eliminating motion between them.

Spinal fusion involves techniques designed to mimic the normal healing process of broken bones. During spinal fusion, your surgeon places bone or a bone-like material within the space between two spinal vertebrae. Metal plates, screws and rods may be used to hold the vertebrae together, so they can heal into one solid unit.

Because spinal fusion surgery immobilizes parts of your spine, it changes the way your spine can move. This places additional stress and strain on the vertebrae above and below the fused portion, and may increase the rate at which those areas of your spine degenerate.