Arthroscopic Knee Surgery—Is a Knee Scope Right for You?
Arthroscopic knee surgery involves the use of a tiny camera (arthroscope), specialized surgical instruments, and minimally invasive techniques, all of which allow a surgeon to clearly see the interior of the knee joint without making a large incision. The camera captures detailed images that are projected onto a high-definition external monitor in real time, allowing the surgeon to operate with enhanced precision. As compared to traditional open surgery, arthroscopic knee surgery typically results in less pain and stiffness as well as a faster recovery.
How Is Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Used?
Usually discussed as a second- or third-line treatment, arthroscopy can be used to address many painful knee conditions that do not respond well to conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, and injections. For instance, a surgeon may perform arthroscopic knee surgery to:
- Repair a torn meniscus
- Reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Trim damaged articular cartilage
- Remove loose bone or cartilage fragments
- Remove inflamed synovial tissue
- Reposition a misaligned patella (kneecap)
- Treat knee sepsis (infection)
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Arthroscopic Knee Surgery?
Following a knee arthroscopy, there may be some swelling in the knee, which should subside within a few days to a few weeks. Most patients are encouraged to perform specific exercises to promote recovery. For instance, it can be especially helpful to strengthen the thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings), which support the knee joint. Swimming and cycling are low-impact options that can be very effective. Depending on the specifics of the knee issue and the surgical procedure, a full recovery may be achieved within four to six weeks (a full recovery from a complex surgical procedure can take up to several months).
How Can Further Knee Injuries Be Prevented?
It is important to take steps to minimize the risk of future knee injuries after a knee arthroscopy. In general, this involves:
Maintaining a Healthy & Stable Body Weight
Carrying excess body weight can stress the joints in the lower body, especially the knees. Over time, the undue pressure can hasten the onset and progression of osteoarthritis.
Wearing Appropriate Shoes
It is important to wear supportive, stable, and properly fitting shoes at all times. Wearing high-heeled shoes is particularly problematic because, in addition to creating pressure on the knees, it can cause the calf muscles to become shorter and tighter over time. This can lead to overpronation, which causes the arch of the foot to collapse and the lower leg to roll excessively inward during movement, stressing the knee and ankle joints.
Wearing shoes with slip-resistant soles can reduce the risk of slips and falls that can lead to knee injuries. Also, individuals who walk, run, or otherwise exercise frequently should replace their footwear every three months or more often as needed to ensure adequate cushioning to protect the knees and other joints.
Strengthen the Core, Hip & Leg Muscles
Strong muscles can take on and support more weight, shifting the burden away from the knees and other joints. Additionally, strong core muscles promote proper skeletal alignment and posture, both of which are essential for evenly distributing stress on the joints.
Stretch the Muscles That Support the Knees
Gently and regularly stretching the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles can promote knee joint flexibility and mobility. Staying flexible overall can help keep weight-bearing joints healthy during the natural aging process.
Repetitive kneeling or kneeling on hard surfaces can damage and compress the bursae that cushion and protect the tendons and ligaments in the knee joints. This condition, which is known as bursitis, can be painful, especially when accompanied by other conditions, such as osteoarthritis.
Work With a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Lafayette
If you’re experiencing knee pain, you can turn with confidence to Peter D. Vizzi, MD, for a comprehensive assessment. With a practice conveniently located in Lafayette, LA, Dr. Vizzi is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who offers both conservative and surgical treatment options, including arthroscopic knee surgery, for a variety of conditions.