Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and sometimes treat joint injuries and disease through small incisions in the skin. It is often performed to confirm a diagnosis made after a physical examination and other imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan or X-rays. During an arthroscopic procedure, a thin fiberoptic light, magnifying lens and tiny television camera are inserted into the problem area, allowing the doctor to examine the joint in great detail.
For some patients it is then possible to treat the problem using this approach or with a combination of arthroscopic and “open” surgery. Sports injuries are often repairable with arthroscopy. Tendon tears in the knee are frequently repaired in this way. Other potentially treatable injuries include torn cartilage or ligaments, inflamed joint lining, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tears, and loose bone or cartilage.
Because it is minimally invasive, arthroscopy offers many benefits to the patient over traditional surgery:
- No cutting of muscles or tendons
- Less bleeding during surgery
- Less scarring
- Smaller incisions
- Faster recovery and return to regular activities
- Faster and more comfortable rehabilitation
Arthroscopy is not appropriate for every patient. Your doctor will discuss the diagnostic and treatment options that are best for you.
In order to prevent sports injuries from occurring, it is important for athletes to take care of themselves before, during and after physical activity. This helps to ensure long-term athletic health. Some of the most effective injury prevention tips include:
- Staying hydrated
- Taking time to rest
- Don’t work out on an empty stomach
- Warm up before exercising
- Gradually increasing activity level
Athletes should see a doctor on a regular basis to ensure that they are performing at their peak level and to detect any problems in their earliest stages. Continuing to exercise or play sports with an injury can significantly worsen the severity of the condition.