An arthroscopy is often needed as a diagnostic tool when patients experience serious knee and/or shoulder pain. In some cases, the knee or shoulder pain can be diagnosed prior to the arthroscopy. In those cases, it is a good way to verify the problem. An arthroscopy is also used to treat the problem. It is a far less invasive way to perform knee and shoulder surgeries than the traditional "open" surgeries.
A torn anterior cruciate ligament, a torn posterior cruciate ligament, a torn meniscus, loose bits of cartilage in the knee joint, and Baker's cysts in the back part of the knee are all issues that can be diagnosed and treated with an arthroscopy. For shoulders, a torn or damaged cartilage ring, ligaments, rotator cuff, or biceps tendon can result in an arthroscopy.
Recovery from an arthroscopy is far easier than it is from open surgery. Patients generally need to keep their leg elevated continually (as much as possible) in the days immediately following the surgery for knee surgeries. Ice packs can be used to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Patients may use prescription pain medicine to further alleviate pain, and after around a week may transition into using over the counter pain relievers. Some patients will need regular physical therapy after arthroscopy, but this varies by patient. Be sure to get the doctor's okay before returning to regular activities fully.
Even patients who don't need physical therapy can work on strengthening their knees and shoulders post arthroscopy. The doctor will prescribe therapeutic exercises that can allow the patient to get stronger and gradually regain their full range of movement again. These exercises can be done at home, and are generally very basic strength building and stretching exercises.
After an arthroscopy, patients are generally scheduled for a post-operative appointment. During this appointment, the doctor will remove stitches, check on the healing progress, and make sure the surgery had the desired result.
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