When the pain and other symptoms can no longer be managed by non-operative methods then surgery is your best option. The belief that one needs to be completely disabled before considering joint replacement is not only false but dangerous. Studies have shown that patients that wait too long to have their joints replaced can have a harder recovery and poorer outcomes.
This procedure involves making 2-3 poke holes into the joint and removing torn cartilage or loose material from the joint. Although this procedure was commonly used in the past to treat arthritis, there are limited indications at this time for using arthroscopy in the knee. The main reason that its used less often is that is has not shown to provide any long lasting relief for moderate to severe arthritis. Its commonly used for treating cartilage tears.