When exercise, physical therapy and drugs aren't enough in treating your rheumatoid arthritis, surgery may be necessary. It can help to restore or improve function, reduce pain and improve your quality of life.

Arthritis surgery can take place at various stages in the disease. The Rheumatology Channel indicates that the following are the typical surgeries performed for arthritis:

Arthrodesis - a procedure that fuses two bones. It helps to relieve pain and improve stability.

Arthroplasty - known more commonly as joint replacement surgery. It helps to improve mobility and prolong independence.

Arthroscopic surgery - a thin tube called an arthroscope is inserted through small incisions into the joint for assessment and repair. It improves joint function.

Osteotomy - the bones of the joint are cut and repositioned to improve alignment and stability.

Resection - part or all of the bone is removed. It helps to increase joint function and protect the tendons from damage.

Synovectomy - removes parts of the synovium (the protective lining of the joint) to help reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.

What You Need to Know Before Surgery

Making the decision to have surgery is no small affair. As with any surgery there are risks you need to be aware of. The more you know, the more you'll feel comfortable about your decision, which can impact how well you make it through surgery and recover.

Your doctor will give you important information, such as how to prepare for the surgery and how many follow-up visits you'll have to make. But there's more you should know.

Here are 10 questions you should ask your doctor:

1. Do I really need this surgery at this stage, or are there other ways I can improve my arthritis?

2. What is involved in the procedure and where can I go to get more information?

3. How risky is the surgery and will there be any possible permanent damage or side effects?

4. What is the success rate of this type of surgery and will it fix the problem permanently?

5. How much will the surgery improve my arthritis and my lifestyle?

6. What do I need to do to prepare for the surgery and how long will I be in the hospital?

7. How severe is the pain likely to be after surgery and what will be the best way to treat it, including natural remedies?

8. What sort of physical therapy will I need after the surgery and how long will I have to do it?

9. Are there assistive devices I should have that will help me during my recovery and do I need someone to help me at home?

10. How soon can I return to normal activities after the surgery and how soon can I reduce my medications?

Don't be shy about asking questions. This is an important decision that will have a profound impact on your life. Be sure to follow the doctor's recommendations for preparation and recovery to achieve the best results from your arthritis surgery.