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What You Need to Know About Wrist Arthroscopy

What You Need to Know About Wrist Arthroscopy

Have you struggled with wrist pain? Are you having difficulty with simple tasks like typing, writing, carrying groceries, or even opening a door? 

Wrist pain can start all of a sudden due to an injury or slowly increase over time. Pain can impact daily activities since the wrist is a joint used a great deal in everyday tasks. With the increasing ubiquity of consumer technology, wrist pain is more common than ever. Typing on a computer, texting on a cell phone, or holding and using a tablet all put pressure on the wrists, which can become a problem over time. 

The wrist is complex, with all of its ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. Sometimes rest, physical therapy, and medication can not resolve the discomfort. For those in this situation, wrist arthroscopy might be the best solution.

What is Wrist Arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure by which doctors can look at, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. Performing an arthroscopy involves small incisions and the insertion of a tool with a camera at the end of a small tube used to directly see the inside of the joint. 

The surgeon can move the camera around and see many angles of the wrist anatomy.  Small incisions to allow the surgeon reset fractures, remove ganglions, clean out  infection, and address sources of inflammation. The small tool used is beneficial as a diagnostic tool and a surgical tool, and gives the ability for the patient to return to their normal activities in a matter of days or weeks. 

Arthroscopy has become one of the most beneficial and least invasive methods of diagnosing and treating joint issues, and it is the only procedure that allows the physician to see directly into the wrist joint. Because the tools used can both analyze and treat the ailment, two separate procedures are not  necessary. 

Generally, arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure with the patient discharged having an immobilized wrist for pain reduction. Home therapy includes elevation, icing, and any exercises the orthopedic surgeon may recommend.. 

Wrist Arthroscopy Surgery Procedure

Wrist arthroscopy procedure is surgical and can take place at an outpatient surgical center or as an outpatient procedure at the hospital. 

Surgery has essential components regardless of the procedure. You arrive at the surgical center and will likely have several nurses, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist greet you and ask you questions before the surgery. Even though you are wearing a medical bracelet, they will ask you for your name and date of birth, and what surgery you are having. Generally, the surgeon will even mark the surgical wrist with a pen. 

It is important to note that wrist arthroscopy is often not performed under general anesthesia. The procedure uses regional anesthetic, which numbs the arm and hand and sedates the patient. 

Small incisions allow an arthroscope with a 3D camera and light to see the structures of the wrist. The surgeon can see the 3D structures of the wrist as projected onto a monitor. While viewing the wrist structures, the surgeon can use surgical tools through the incision to repair issues that are found.

The third component of surgery is recovery, which we will explore further.  

Wrist Arthroscopy Risks

There are risks with any surgery that the surgeon, nurses, and anesthesiologist will address. They will ask questions about medication allergies, surgical history, and more.

Since the surgery generally uses regional anesthetic rather than general anesthesia, there are fewer associated risks.. There are always risks with any procedure, and as with all surgeries, the patient should watch for signs of infection, nerve issues, abnormal swelling, or excessive bleeding. Additionally, risks can include medication allergies from anesthesia, not healing correctly, lack of strength, and additional injury post-surgery. When in doubt, reach out to the surgeon or the surgical center for guidance. 

Wrist Arthroscopy Benefits

Since arthroscopy is minimally invasive, there is a reduced risk of infection and scarring compared to other procedures. Recovery from this procedure is speedy for the patient. The surgeon has easy access to and an excellent view of the joint while also performing the procedure. In addition, the surgeon will check every structure in the wrist before finishing the procedure. 

Athletes are able to return to their training very quickly, and employees may soon return to their work responsibilities. Resuming normal activities soon after is recommended for healing. Recovery time for wrist arthroscopy is far reduced compared to open surgery procedures of the past.

Wrist Arthroscopy Recovery

The surgeon will close the incisions with stitches.  You will return home with your wrist bandaged. The surgical center will provide information regarding how long to leave the bandage on, how soon that area can get wet, steps to take and when to remove the bandage, and what to watch for, such as a temperature, excessive swelling, abnormal bleeding, or signs of infection. 

The home protocol should include ice and elevation for the first few days. Over-the-counter medications are often enough to manage any pain. Discharge instructions may also include at-home exercises to help increase flexibility through the healing process. 

The surgeon may ask you to avoid certain activities for some time to allow your wrist to heal fully. You will need to avoid risky activities that can lead to additional damage during recovery.  

Get Rid Of Wrist Pain for Good

If you are struggling with wrist pain and unsure how to proceed, Thunder Basin Orthopaedics can help. We are a group of orthopedic physicians specializing in all orthopedic options, including minimally invasive surgery, arthroscopic surgery, sports medicine, joint replacement, physical therapy, and more. 

Contact us at Thunder Basin Orthopaedics today to begin your journey to recovery, so we can get you back in the game.