The resilient, flexible, and fibrous tissue between human joints, cartilage is akin to a lubrication mechanism; think “WD40” for our bones. A true multi-tasker, it offers shock absorption – preventing painful sensations during high-impact activities (such as that basketball game you played this weekend). At the same time, it moves and glides in Yogi-esque splendor – allowing bones to shift as the joints flex and straighten. It plays an invaluable role in the body, preventing countless ailments – when it’s intact, that is.
Cartilage is not without its imperfections. Athletes frequently experience cartilage tears resulting from injuries; common wear-and-tear and arthritis can also lead to the breakdown of this important tissue. Unlike other parts of the body, cartilage doesn’t have any blood cells during its mature state of adulthood. This means it’s denied access to those precious red blood cells that are crucial to the healing process.
Just because the body’s cartilage can’t repair itself, it doesn’t mean you must throw in the towel for the activities you enjoy. Expert surgeons like the ones at OrthoUnited are breaking ground in minimally-invasive surgeries of the elbows, knees, wrists, hips, ankles, and shoulders. And as it turns out, when it comes to orthopaedic treatments –sometimes less is more.
Coming from the Greek words “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look), arthroscopy offers a glimpse into a previously hidden part of the human body. It’s one of the most common Orthopedic surgeries performed, with more than 650,000 completed each year in the United States.
A minimally invasive surgical technique, arthroscopy helps physicians to diagnose and treat a plethora of joint problems. According to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this procedure offers doctors a close-up view of the affected area through a tiny incision in which your doctor will insert an arthroscope, or small camera. Miniscule surgical tools are then utilized to trim or repair tears.
Your physician will evaluate your specific condition – determining whether to conduct a partial meniscectomy or meniscus repair. A partial surgery will entail trimming back the damaged cartilage, while a meniscus repair is a bit more laborious – involving suturing torn pieces together. According to Mayo Clinic, joint infections, scarring within joints, and torn ligaments can also be treated with arthroscopic surgery.
Unlike open surgeries – which can leave behind large scars and leave you bedridden for extensive periods, arthroscopic surgery causes little pain and scarring, and gets you back on your feet faster. In fact, most people can resume light activities within one week of surgery. Recommended by many orthopedists, a recuperation routine known as R.I.C.E. –or rest, ice, compression, and elevation – can be effective in alleviating pain and swelling.
Have you tried physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications or injections, or simple rest & relaxation without any relief from persistent pain? When non-surgical methods just aren’t cutting it, arthroscopy may be a beneficial procedure for you. If you’re interested in learning more about arthroscopic surgery, or would like to schedule a consultation, call OrthoUnited at (844) 469-2663 or access the online appointment request form.