Arthroscopy: How It Works and How It Benefits You

Arthroscopy: How It Works and How It Benefits You

Have you ever heard of tomophobia? As you can guess from the -phobia suffix, tomophobia is a fear — fear of surgery. A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine found that about 12% of people are afraid of surgical procedures. 

And when you consider the kind of surgeries featured in popular medical dramas, you can see how tomophobia develops. It’s all about doctors crowded around a patient as they perform an intense and invasive procedure. 

This type of surgery, called open surgery, was the dominant surgical approach until the mid-20th century. But as technology improved, a new kind of surgery, arthroscopy, became more popular. This minimally invasive surgery technique has been a boon for orthopedic patients and may help speed your recovery and help you return to activities and sports in less time. 

If you're currently dealing with joint pain, come see our team at Steven E. Nolan, MD. Dr. Nolan is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience and has received numerous top-surgeon awards during his career. Here, he discusses how arthroscopy works, the injuries it can treat, and it’s many advantages. 

What is arthroscopy? 

The word arthroscopy is derived from two Greek words, “arthro” and “skopien,” that combine to mean “to look within the joint.” This literal definition describes exactly how arthroscopy works. A small camera called an arthroscope is inserted through a small incision. 

The camera and its lighting system help Dr. Nolan see the inside of a joint without a large incision. Once the structure of the joint is in view, he can determine the extent of an injury, and, with the help of other small tools, he can repair or correct the problem. 

Where is arthroscopy used? 

Arthroscopy’s small size makes it pretty versatile. It’s mostly commonly used to assess and treat injuries in the following joints: 

Dr. Nolan specializes in shoulder and knee arthroscopy

What kind of conditions and injuries can arthroscopy treat?

Arthroscopy is sometimes used as a diagnostic tool because it’s minimally invasive but lets doctors see inside the body. If X-rays and other imaging is ineffective, arthroscopy is the best way to get a clear idea of what’s going on. For injuries, repair of damaged tissue is one of top injury fixes. Other injuries than may be suitable for treatment by arthroscopy include:

Open surgery may still be required for severe injuries. 

Advantages

Arthroscopy has all of the benefits of other minimally invasive surgeries, including less postoperative swelling, reduced pain, lower risk of complications, and quicker recovery times. 

Athletes have been a major beneficiary of these reduced risks — many injuries that once ended careers can now be treated with arthroscopy. 

Arthroscopy is also performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you don’t have to spend a night or more in the hospital. And when it comes to scars, arthroscopy can’t be beat. The incisions needed for arthroscopy are typically about ¼ of an inch, or the size of a button hole. Although multiple incisions may be needed to complete a surgery, they are nothing compared to the incisions open surgery requires. 

To learn more about arthroscopy and if it could be the answer to your pain or injuries, request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD, today.

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