What to Expect from Arthroscopy

What to Expect from Arthroscopy

Have you had joint problems for some time? Perhaps it’s painful osteoarthritis. It may be a painful back or knee joint. Orthopedic surgery today uses minimally invasive methods, led by arthroscopy, to diagnose and treat a variety of joint problems. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine are trained in arthroscopic surgery. This minimally invasive procedure uses tiny incisions and a camera to diagnose your joint problems and make repairs at the same time. 

The small incisions mean less bleeding, less chance of infection, and quicker recovery than with a traditional open surgery. 

Arthroscopy is used to diagnose injuries that may elude a diagnosis from other tests. It’s also a great surgical method for those injuries that can be repaired using minimally invasive techniques.

If you have a joint injury, you’ve likely had X-rays and maybe an MRI. If the diagnosis is inconclusive, your doctor might recommend arthroscopic surgery to determine what’s happening inside the joint. 

When they frayed cartilage, a torn ligament, a bone spur, a bone fragment, or other similar problem, they can use arthroscopic surgery to make the necessary repairs during the procedure.  

Arthroscopic surgery can be done on any joint, but it’s used most often on joints that cause people the most trouble, such as knees, wrists, hips, ankles, and shoulders. 

If you’re a tennis player, you may have developed a bone spur on your elbow. Perhaps you have shoulder impingement or an ACL tear. You may have developed scarring from a previous surgery that may be impacting your mobility. All of these can be treated with arthroscopic surgery. 

What happens during arthroscopic surgery? 

You may receive general anesthesia depending on which joint is affected. Your physician makes a small cut and inserts a tiny video camera attached to a tube in the target area. A greatly magnified image appears on a monitor to offer an improved look inside the damaged joint. Your doctor may inject fluid into the joint to expand the area around it and get an even better view. 

Your doctor can see all parts of the joint on the monitor, including cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bone. The first small incision is for the video camera. Your doctor then makes a few other other tiny incisions and inserts thin tools used to trim damaged tissue and make other necessary repairs. He then closes the opening with tiny sutures. 

After arthroscopic surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is normally outpatient surgery unless your doctor thinks there is a good chance they will need to continue with open surgery once they view the area. 

Arrange to have someone help you for a few days after the surgery. If your job is not too physically demanding, you can likely go back to work in a few days, but it will take a few weeks for the joint to heal from the surgery. 

You’re prescribed pain medication for temporary use. The joint may need to be elevated to reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor likely recommends rest, ice, compression and elevation — the RICE method — to help the healing process. You may have a brace or sling to support the joint while it heals.

Once the swelling has gone down, your doctor may prescribe some physical therapy sessions to help you regain mobility and flexibility in the joint. Moving the joint again is important so it doesn’t become stiff or frozen. Therapy sessions strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint to help protect it. 

Call or book an appointment online with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in West Memphis, Arkansas, or Collierville, Tennessee, for all of your musculoskeletal needs. 

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