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Is Arthroscopy only for Sportsperson?

By Dr. Raju Easwaran in Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement

Nov 08 , 2020 | 3 min read

Arthroscopy is derived from 2 Greek words, ‘Arthros’ meaning ‘Joints’ and ‘Scope’ meaning ‘to see’. In simple terms, we can define arthroscopy as visualizing interior of human joints through a camera. All human joints allow a safe insertion of 4mm camera and instruments at strategic points, thereby allowing surgeons to see and repair the damaged issue.  

What are the Advantages of Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy requires the surgeon to cut a lesser amount of tissue to reach the joint as compared to open joint surgery. This causes less pain and increases the chances of quick recovery. The arthroscope (camera) magnifies the field of view and allows the surgeon to operate delicately with millimetre precision. The areas of joints that were inaccessible to operate through open surgery can now easily be operated through arthroscopy. Let us explore the realms of fascinating minimally invasive surgery through FAQs:

Which joints of the human body can be treated by arthroscopy?

Nearly all the joints can be treated. Knee arthroscopy forms the major chunk of our surgical volume, followed by the shoulder. One can also do this procedure on the elbow, ankle, wrist & very recently the hip joint.

Is arthroscopy only for sportspersons?

No, it is merely coincidental that most injuries that require arthroscopy are a result of injuries in various types of sport. In fact majority of our surgical volume is directed towards an occasional athlete or a non athlete, who has sustained injury in a domestic or roadside accident.

What are the common knee diseases that require arthroscopy?

Ligament injuries of the knee are the most common reason to do knee arthroscopy. If you have injured your knee in an accident or while playing sports and feel that the knee is loose (unstable) then you will surely benefit from arthroscopy. Certain people experience recurrent episode of locking the knee, which can be easily treated by arthroscopy. These days dislocations of kneecap are also treated through arthroscopy.

What are the common shoulder diseases that require arthroscopy?

Recurrent dislocation of the shoulder is a common sporting injury that can be very well treated by arthroscopy. Our senior patients, especially diabetics are prone to shoulder injuries like tearing of shoulder tendons (rotator cuff tear), which prevents them from lifting their arms. Frozen shoulder is another common problem affecting diabetics. In this condition, the shoulder becomes very stiff. If it persists despite adequate medications and physiotherapy, arthroscopy is a good alternative.

What are the common elbow, wrist & ankle diseases that require arthroscopy?

Tennis elbow that hasn't responded to medications & physiotherapy can be cured by elbow arthroscopy. Similarly certain wrist fractures, inflammations are amenable to wrist arthroscopy. Chronic ankle pain resulting from sprains, inflammation etc can be cured by ankle arthroscopy.

What are the common hip diseases that require arthroscopy?

Hip joint is one of the deepest joints of the human body. Severe pain in the hip of young patients can be treated by hip arthroscopy. Early stages of hip arthritis can also be treated from arthroscopic re-shaping of the hip. This is an exciting field and new advancements are added to this spectrum.

What is the usual procedure for getting an arthroscopy?

You will be examined by a fellowship trained sports surgeon, who will decide if arthroscopy is appropriate for you. Though most surgeries are done as a day care or short stay surgery, wherein you get discharged from the hospital from 24-48hours. Regional anaesthesia (spinal & epidural) is given for the lower limb procedures & general anaesthesia is preferred for the upper limb procedures. The recovery period is different for each surgery & is best discussed face to face with the surgeon.

Are there any risks that I should be aware of?

Arthroscopy is a safe & well established procedure. Temporary soreness of the joint, swelling & stiffness are expected but they can be treated with physiotherapy. Anaesthesia related issues are best discussed with anaesthetist after admission. Modern anaesthesia makes it safe for anyone to undergo this procedure & with a multi-speciality panel of experts like cardiologists, physiotherapists etc, you are covered for all possible eventualities that may happen during the hospital stay.

How painful is arthroscopy?

Our excellent pain service will ensure that you don't feel pain before, during or after the procedure. The mild joint soreness that accompanies arthroscopy is easily managed with simple anti-inflammatory medications.