Arthroscopy means “look at a joint” — quite literally. “Arthro” is from Greek and means joint, and “skopein” is another Greek word that means to look. If your doctor has suggested arthroscopy, they want to look at one of your joints with a tiny camera.
The most common areas for arthroscopy are the knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles, hips, and wrists. The expert providers at Orthocenter specialize in caring for all of those areas, so it’s no surprise that they have extensive experience in arthroscopy.
What is arthroscopy?
When you have arthroscopy, your doctor makes several tiny incisions around the area they want to examine. They insert a tiny camera, attached to a tube that also has a light, and the image from the camera is reflected onto a screen your doctor can see. The camera tool is called an arthroscope.
Arthroscopy is an important tool when your doctor hasn’t been able to clearly see what’s happening with your joint using imaging techniques like X-rays. It may be recommended if you have inflammation, an injury, or a joint that’s been damaged over time by a condition like arthritis.
Here are five of the benefits of arthroscopy.
1. A correct diagnosis
Sometimes, your doctor can’t tell from a physical exam or even from imaging what’s happening with your joint. In those cases, arthroscopy can allow them to see exactly what’s going on.
A correct diagnosis of the problem is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan. For example, a torn tendon and a ruptured tendon may require different treatments.
2. Repairs on the spot
One of the biggest benefits of arthroscopy is that your doctor has the ability to do some repairs right then, so you don’t need to undergo a separate procedure.
One common example is if you have osteoarthritis of the knee and your doctor performs arthroscopy to get an idea of the extent of the damage to your joint. They also may be able to clean up any cartilage or bits of tissue that are causing pain during the procedure.
3. Knowing the next step
In some cases, your doctor may find exactly what your problem is and determine that it can’t be fixed using arthroscopic techniques, and that you would be better served with traditional open surgery.
Although no one looks forward to surgery, it can be a relief to have an understanding of your problem and to know what needs to come next.
4. Less risk
Because your doctor makes very small incisions, you have a lesser risk of developing an infection after arthroscopic surgery. There is still some risk, but it’s much lower because the smaller openings leave less space for bacteria to get in.
5. Faster recovery
Similarly, because the incisions are small, you recover more quickly. You still need several days for the incisions to heal, but the pain in your joint is likely to be quite minimal.
Your doctor may recommend certain activities or a rehabilitation program to help you heal completely or to help you protect your joint based on what they learned during the procedure.
Even if you do need to complete a rehabilitation program, you may be able to resume most of your normal activities within a few days. The specific problem you’re dealing with, your overall health, and other factors are important to consider when it comes to recovery.
If you still have questions about the purpose or safety of arthroscopy, schedule an appointment at Orthocenter to discuss your concerns. We have three convenient locations, in Red Bank, Morganville, and Holmdel, New Jersey, and our experts are always happy to answer your questions.