If you’re dealing with wrist pain or a wrist injury, an arthroscopy may be the right choice for you. This minimally invasive procedure will allow your surgeon to identify, diagnose, and treat your condition.
The wrist is made up of eight small bones and connecting ligaments. Arthroscopy involves a tiny camera, or arthroscope, that surgeons use to see inside the joint. This tool allows surgeons to identify problems within the wrist joint or even perform a surgical procedure without having to make large incisions in the muscle and tissue.
Diagnostic arthroscopy is necessary because surgeons can get to the root of the problem and identify the issue themselves, rather than relying on X-rays that aren’t always accurate.
Arthroscopic surgery can be used to examine the bones and ligaments of the wrist, and to diagnose and treat chronic wrist pain, wrist fractures, ganglion cysts, and ligament tears.
Besides identifying and treating injuries in the wrist, arthroscopy is used in rotator cuff surgery, repairing torn cartilage and ligaments, reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, and in release of carpal tunnel. In some cases, it’s used in combination with another procedure.
After your physician evaluates your condition or injury, he or she may determine that arthroscopy is the best option.
Although this procedure isn’t as invasive as open surgery, it will still take place in a hospital or an outpatient surgical suite. Before the procedure begins, your hand and arm will be numbed but you will not be put under general anesthesia.
During the procedure, the surgeon will make small incisions in the skin around your wrist joint that are half an inch long or less. This surgery is performed using miniature instruments designed specifically for arthroscopy. The arthroscope, which contains a small lens and lighting system, is inserted through the incisions and into the joint. The camera image within your wrist will be displayed on a screen that your surgeon will watch while performing the surgery.
After the procedure is performed, your small incisions will be covered with a dressing that should be kept clean and dry.
The length of recovery time will typically last between a few days and a week or two, but depends on the specific arthroscopic surgical wrist treatment you had performed. You may experience mild pain after surgery, but over-the-counter pain medication will provide relief.
The first two or three days after your wrist arthroscopy, keep your wrist elevated and apply ice to keep the swelling down, and be very careful to keep the bandage clean and dry.
Generally speaking, arthroscopy is a very safe procedure. While any type of surgical procedure comes with its risks, arthroscopy is minimally invasive and risks are also very minimal. This procedure is a great way to identify the issues within your wrist and get you back on the road to recovery.
If you’re experiencing wrist pain or suffering from a wrist injury, you may want to consider arthroscopy. Download our e-book, How to Choose an Orthopaedic Surgeon, for more information on how to find the right surgeon for you.