April 3, 2017 Patient Education 1

What is Arthroscopy?

As a minimally invasive alternative to traditional joint surgery, arthroscopy requires only small incisions and offers attractive advantages. You may want to consider some reasons for choosing arthroscopic surgery over other surgical approaches for the opportunities that it offers.

Your hospital stays are shorter with it than with traditional methods, and you have less pain and a lower risk of complications as well. Your scars are nearly undetectable, and your recovery time is considerably shorter. Stemming from the Greek words for “joint” and “view,” the orthopedic repair procedure allows surgeons to use a tiny camera to find the causes of your joint pain and little tools to correct them.

Considering the Benefits of Arthroscopic Surgery

Capable of eliminating pain and restoring function to joints, arthroscopy is now the “most commonly performed orthopedic surgical procedure,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Even though the method is much easier than traditional surgery, it does require you to use anesthetics in a hospital or outpatient suite.

Incisions

Arthroscopy surgery requires a much smaller incision than traditional or open techniques, and Mayo Clinic compares it to the size of a “button hole”. The dimension of the opening must admit a tiny tube that contains a camera, and it may measure as little as 0.5 millimeters or 0.02 inches that can allow a surgeon to work on the delicate bones in places such as your wrist.

Hospital Experience

Unlike an extended hospital stay for traditional open surgery, you may find that procedures like an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair occur on an outpatient basis. Without open surgery, you have less trauma to soft tissue and lower medical risks. As a result, you get the benefits of a shorter recovery time with lower postoperative pain.

In a traditional repair, the incision that a surgeon may have to make can extend for several centimeters (cm) to allow for detaching the shoulder muscle, according to Ortho Info. Trauma to the soft tissues can occur, and it typically involves a higher surgical risk.

Recovery Time

Recovering from an invasive procedure requires a longer recovery time than you experience with arthroscopy. The puncture wounds that you get with a routine procedure such as arthroscopic knee surgery may take only a few days for recovery. Although they represent minimal incisions and your joint experiences only a minor impact, you may expect them to take a few weeks to return to full function and form.

Recovering from most arthroscopic surgeries lets you work at your desk or do light activity in a week, delaying strenuous activities until after one month. After an hour or two in the recovery room, you can go home. You need to have someone stay with you for the first night at least. As you begin your rehabilitation, you may expect to use crutches or a walker for a month or two, according to Ortho Info.

Finding Relief from Pain

Arthroscopic surgery can relieve devastating joint pain and restore your joints to the form and function that you expect.

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Overuse, age, and sports injuries can cause pain and discomfort in your knee. Arthroscopy is one of the most common procedures to repair damage to the knee. The Cleveland Clinic considers it a useful tool for confirming a diagnosis and treating conditions such as cartilage wear and meniscus tears.

Allowing a return to an active lifestyle in comfort makes the procedure a potential source of relief. It is safe, but the risks that may face you include some swelling and stiffness, blood clots or possible infection. You can expect to return to work within a week in most cases, and you may resume your normal lifestyle as soon as one to two months.

Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Extraordinary pain in your shoulder can occur as a result of inflammation, a torn rotator cuff, bone spur or bursitis that can limit your range of motion. The symptoms include acute pain when you sleep on the shoulder where the problem exists or when you raise the affected arm above your head.

Treatment begins with an X-ray. The surgical procedure may require two 5mm incisions, according to the Cleveland Clinic. With the arthroscope in place, your surgeon can inspect your joint for ligament, tendon or muscle tears. The objective of the arthroscope is to see inside your joint and to assess its condition.

Following the inspection, your surgeon uses little tools to enter the joint and make repairs that may remove loose debris or smooth spurs that can cause irritation. The method allows you to recover with less pain than traditional procedures during the days immediately following surgery.

• Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
According to NIH, an increasing number of orthopedic surgeons are choosing to repair rotator cuffs arthroscopically. Your torn rotator cuff may require a doctor to perform the reattachment of the tendon to your upper arm bone, or you may need a smoothing procedure instead.

When your condition does not respond to nonsurgical treatment and you have constant pain, you may need to consider the arthroscopic method of repair. Ortho Info suggests that you are a likely candidate if you have had symptoms for 6 to 12 months, have a tear that is larger than 3 cm and a significant loss of function in your shoulder. A tear that relates to a recent acute injury may influence your doctor’s opinion to proceed with the procedure.

• Arthroscopic Hip Surgery
Experts at Bone and Joint consider the hip joint as the most difficult to arthroscope. Recovery can take as long as two weeks on crutches and six weeks of physical therapy. Your surgeon may recommend it if your hip does not improve with physical therapy, rest and medications that treat inflammation, according to Ortho Info.

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Eric Turner
Eric Turner is a content writer who has been working with Orthopedic Associates since early 2017. Eric started writing the day after he learned to read, and hasn't stopped since.