Wrist Arthroscopy

Wrist pain is a common ailment, but the cause of wrist pain varies greatly. There are times when a doctor can’t quite tell what is wrong with a patient’s wrist, and so they need to be able to look closely. If the doctor could just make an incision and examine the area, this could cause more damage or unnecessary pain. The wrist is such a small, densely packed area, filled with tissue, bones, veins, and more. Sometimes even with tests like ultrasound and x-ray, it can be unclear what may be wrong. At times, arthroscopy is also used to determine the severity of an issue that a doctor already knows is there. An arthroscopy can help a doctor know what is happening, so they can determine how to correct it. 

What is an Arthroscope?

An arthroscope is a thin, flexible cable with a tiny camera on the end. This is used to examine the inner body in a way that was once impossible. An arthroscope is used for many different diagnostic procedures and in some internal surgeries. Arthroscopy is a very delicate and specialized operation that requires skilled surgeons. 

Ailments That May Require Wrist Arthroscopy

There are several different hand and wrist problems that may need arthroscopy before a doctor can diagnose and treat a problem. A common concern is that of an internal wrist fracture. This is when one of the smaller bones in the wrist is broken or fractured, but the other bones or parts of the wrist are in the way. This can cause pain, swelling, and numbness. Another problem that is commonly addressed through arthroscopy is ganglion cysts. These are small, benign, tumor-like growths that can cause severe pain and nerve problems in the wrist if they develop deep within the wrist. Some doctors use arthroscopy to find a ligament or tendon tear. These can be difficult to find as well, especially if there are multiple rips. There are many different kinds of ailments that a doctor might want to use arthroscopy to examine before planning or initiating a surgery. 

Wrist Arthroscopy Procedure 

Depending on the extent of the procedure, the surgeon may use an arthroscopy to determine what needs to be done, and then immediately perform the needed operation. To begin, the hand and wrist are numbed with a general anesthetic. The surgeon then makes several small cuts, called portals, in whichever area is best suited for examination. The skin is then pulled up slightly, and the arthroscope is inserted into the skin. There is a small light on the end of the arthroscope so that the surgeon can see the area. The surgeon will then examine the area fully, hopefully finding the problem. Once an issue is found, the surgeon may use other tools to scrape or cut within the portals. Anything that needs to be removed can usually be removed through the smaller incisions, or they may make a larger one if needed. If the issue is resolved, the surgeon will usually close up the portals with stitches and bandage the wrist. 

Recovery after Wrist Arthroscopy

Wrist arthroscopy is considered a minimally invasive surgery. Most of the time, patients can return home shortly after the procedure is completed. The wrist should be elevated and anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken for the pain and swelling. Most people can return to normal function and activity within a week of the surgery. If more incisions had to be made, that recovery time does increase. At times, physical therapy may be prescribed to help avoid any stiffness or decreased mobility. 

Long Term Effects 

Almost every person who goes through wrist arthroscopy has no complications and regains functionality with no real issues. Many patients find that the surgeon will be able to address their ailment as well. This surgery is simple, almost painless, and effective. Contact your doctor if you would like to learn more about arthroscopy as an option for wrist pain.

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