How Arthroscopy Works to Treat Joint Pain

Joint pain can limit your movement and decrease your quality of life. Unfortunately, because the joints are a meeting place of bone, muscle, and soft tissue, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s causing your pain. If you have joint pain without a clear cause, our doctors from One Oak Medical may suggest arthroscopy as a method for further examination and diagnosis of your condition.

What is arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a method of viewing the internal structure of your joints without a large incision. It involves making a small incision near your joint and inserting a small device with a camera. This allows our doctors to clearly see any issues that may cause you pain or limit your mobility.

Arthroscopy built on other forms of internal examination in the 1800s. The first successful arthroscopy was completed on a knee in 1912. This involved a more primitive endoscope with mirrors instead of a camera and was used solely for diagnosis. Treatment of issues that were uncovered still required open surgery. In the past 30 years, arthroscopy tools and techniques have rapidly advanced, allowing doctors to complete repairs during examinations, often with a better outcome than traditional surgery.

Modern arthroscopy is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you can usually go home after the procedure and be well on your way to recovery in just a few days.

Arthroscopy to achieve a diagnosis

Traditionally, arthroscopy was used solely to diagnose joint problems. Since it is a surgical procedure, it is not the first method of diagnosis. Instead, our doctors at One Oak Medical will perform a manual examination and may order X-rays or an MRI. Sometimes a physical exam is enough to determine arthroscopy will be more efficient and accurate than X-rays and MRIs.

In many cases, arthroscopy has been shown to be more accurate than manual examination, X-rays, and MRIs. This means after arthroscopy, you are more likely to get treatment that will lead to relief of your pain and restoration of your joints.

If our doctors use arthroscopy solely to diagnose a problem without fixing the issue, your procedure may be quick, usually around half an hour.

Arthroscopy as a treatment

The main benefit to arthroscopy is that once a problem is detected, it can often be repaired during the same session. If our doctors detect a problem that can be fixed using arthroscopic methods, they will insert small surgical tools in the same incision as the arthroscope or in a nearby, similarly small incision. They will then repair the damage. This can take an hour or more.

Arthroscopy combined with traditional surgery

Some issues that our doctors find may not be treatable with arthroscopic surgery, requiring traditional open surgery instead. In many cases, it will be best to complete the traditional surgery at the same time as the arthroscopy because the problem is visible and already prepared for surgery.

If you are awake during the arthroscopy, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. If you are under general anesthesia, you will be asked to sign a release stating which kinds of treatment you allow, depending on what issues are found. Otherwise, you may have to undergo a second procedure to repair the problems found during your initial surgery. Even if you give permission to treat whatever issue is found, if the restoration is extensive, you may need to come in for a second surgery.

Although arthroscopy has some risks associated with surgery, it is generally a safe procedure that allows our doctors to offer you the best treatment options to resolve your pain. If you have further questions or are suffering from joint pain, you can make an appointment with at One Oak Medical by phone or online.

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