Arthroscopy has been a valuable tool in medical procedures since the 1960s. Its uses have grown over time to include many common conditions today, such as ankle sprains, rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears, and more. It is also crucial in diagnosing problems without actually performing any treatments, which is also essential in some cases. In this article, we’ll list several of the most common arthroscopic treatment conditions that your orthopedic doctor may recommend you treat with an arthroscopic procedure instead of traditional surgery or other methods of treatment.
1. Torn and Damaged Cartilages
Cartilage is a joint’s shock absorber, and when it deteriorates or tears—as in a partially torn ACL or meniscus—arthroscopy can help patch things up. Doctors can patch up cartilage by removing tissue through incisions smaller than 1mm while leaving surrounding ligaments intact. Unlike more traditional surgery that requires more extensive incisions and longer recovery times, an orthopedic surgeon using arthroscopy to repair damaged cartilage typically completes their repairs within an hour.
Most people who undergo these procedures can walk out of the hospital within 24 hours of surgery—and back into their daily routine soon after. Although small incisions may mean faster recoveries for some athletes, surgeons still use large (5cm) incisions for repairing fully torn muscles and ligaments. More minor wounds heal quicker but may cause scarring—something you want to avoid if playing sports will further stress your fixed knee joints.
However, while surgery isn’t suitable for everyone, it could be worth exploring further if you have chronic pain caused by a damaged joint. An arthroplasty surgeon may help with joint replacement surgery if arthroscopy is not a viable solution.
2. Scaring Within Joints
An underlying condition may be at fault when a joint becomes stiff or itchy. In many cases, scarring has formed within joints, triggering inflammation and pain. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and stiffness in joints. Other underlying factors can cause scarring, so visiting your orthopedic doctor is an essential first step to any treatment plan.
Treatments will vary based on patient symptoms; however, you might find relief through surgical options such as arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, surgeons will make tiny incisions before inserting a small tube—called an endoscope—into one of your joints. From there, they will use tools to break up scar tissue and relieve surrounding inflammation. This process allows patients to resume their routine while reducing discomfort associated with scarring.
3. Torn Ligaments, ACL Tears, and Meniscus Tear
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure helpful in diagnosing and treating various knee injuries, including meniscus tears and ACL tears. The technique involves inserting an endoscope (a small tube with a camera) into tiny incisions near your knee joint. During an ACL tear repair arthroscopic surgery, surgeons use staples or sutures to reattach torn ligaments in your knee. Your orthopedic surgeon may also remove excess cartilage or fluid from around your kneecap.
Most people are familiar with torn ligaments, and many have dealt with them at some point. Often connected to a tear in your meniscus or an injury to one of your bones, torn ligaments are a common sports injury that requires arthroscopy treatment.
4. Loose Bone Fragments
Loose fragments in your knee joint may be a common condition that many people suffer through, but as they can lead to further injuries, it’s crucial to seek treatment and have an orthopedic surgeon remove them. During an arthroscopy procedure, your surgeon will insert small tools inside your knee joint and use them to remove loose bone fragments carefully.
However, if left untreated, these fragments may continue to irritate surrounding tissues. The loose bone fragments can even damage tendons or ligaments—which could leave you in more pain and cause permanent damage over time. Regular checkups can help ensure loose bone fragments don’t develop into more severe conditions, even if there are no immediate signs. It’s, therefore, crucial to contact an experienced orthopedic surgeon like Dr Meirs Johnson, with many years of experience and successful results in orthopedic surgery, to help remove any loose bone fragments.
5. Rotator Cuff Tears and Shoulder Dislocation
Rotator cuff tears and frequent shoulder dislocation are the most common diagnoses warranting arthroscopy. Treating a rotator cuff tear can be as simple as reattaching or repairing your torn tendon. Once your orthopedic surgeon has diagnosed and repaired your rotator cuff, you will need to recover at home; you don’t have to face unnecessary surgery.
Depending on your tear, recovery time varies greatly—some repairs take just a few weeks while others take several months to heal fully. Your orthopedic surgeon will inform you about the healing process and how long it will take to fully recover and explain what symptoms you should watch out for during recovery.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure helpful in treating common joint problems, such as torn cartilage, in which joints suffer from inflammation and excessive wear and tear. Although there are many arthroscopy procedures, they are all typically outpatient and use local anesthesia. However, a minor untreated injury can develop into a serious and complicated condition. Therefore, it’s crucial to contact an experienced orthopedic surgeon like Dr Meirs Johnson to help you regain your life with ease.