Not too long ago, treating joint-related pain and injuries meant open surgery with large incisions. But today, many joint and musculoskeletal conditions can be diagnosed and treated with a minimally-invasive approach called arthroscopy.
Arthroscopy uses tiny incisions, which means less bleeding, less tissue damage, and faster healing and recovery than traditional surgery. In the United States, nearly 2 million arthroscopic procedures are performed annually.
At Next Step Orthopedics in McKinney, Texas, Dominique Nickson, MD, uses the most advanced arthroscopic techniques to diagnose and treat an array of painful joint problems in the knee, foot, ankle, or shoulder, including the following six conditions.
Cartilage is a tough material that forms a slick surface on the bones that comprise your joints. The slick surface allows your joints to bend and flex without a lot of friction for smooth, pain-free movements. If the cartilage is damaged or worn away, the bone surfaces grind against each other, increasing friction and pain. Arthroscopy can be used both to evaluate cartilage damage and to repair it.
Ligaments are tough, fibrous bands that connect one bone to another. Ligaments can be strained or torn, either partially or entirely. Most ligament injuries occur when a joint is twisted oddly or abruptly. Sudden impacts, like landing hard or awkwardly after a jump or when running, can also cause ligament damage.
Joint infections occur when disease-causing bacteria enter a joint through a cut, injury, or following a surgical procedure. Once inside the joint, bacteria can quickly multiply, damaging cartilage and other tissues. Arthroscopic surgery can be used to repair that damage and clear away diseased tissue so your joint can heal properly.
Scar tissue buildup
Scar tissue forms when your body reacts to an injury by building a strong network of tough injuries, both to heal the damaged area and to prevent future injury. While it acts as a sort of defense mechanism for your body, too much scar tissue can interfere with normal joint movement, causing stiffness, pain, and reduced range of motion. Arthroscopy uses special techniques to remove scar tissue so joints can move naturally again.
Loose bone fragments
Sometimes, tiny fragments of bone can break away from the edges of a bone comprising a joint. These are called “loose bodies,” and without treatment, they can interfere with normal joint movement, causing pain, swelling, or “sticking” sensations. Arthroscopy can be used to remove bone fragments so that joints can work again.
Like scarring, inflammation is another natural response to injury, and in small doses, it can help repair the damage. But when inflammation inside a joint doesn’t stop, it can wind up causing a lot of damage. Arthroscopy can be used to determine the cause of inflammation so we can effectively treat it.