Your knee is one of the most important joints in your body. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most easily injured. Any part of its complex structure of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons can be damaged, causing issues with your ability to bear weight or move freely. Some of the most common knee injuries include fracture or dislocation of the kneecap, sprains and ligament tears. While some knee injuries are minor enough to heal with rest and physical therapy, others are debilitating and require surgery to regain complete function.
You don’t want a knee injury to keep you from doing the things you love. Knee arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to visualize, diagnose and treat knee joint problems. Arthroscopy has revolutionized the way joint injuries are treated and repaired by offering shorter hospital stays, reduced recovery time and less scarring.
If you have a knee injury or are experiencing knee pain, see an orthopaedic doctor as soon as possible to avoid further injury. The Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio has many knee specialists that can help you determine the type of knee problem you’re dealing with and how you can find relief.
Inside your knee joint, there are three bones: the thigh bone (femur), the shin bone (tibia) and the kneecap (patella). Articular cartilage covers the parts of these bones that touch so they glide smoothly against each other while you bend or straighten your leg. Another piece of cartilage, called the meniscus, sits between the thigh bone and the shin bone and acts as a shock absorber.
Four ligaments connect the bones together and stabilize the joint: the medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Various tendons connect the muscles to the bones. These are the anatomical structures of the knee joint, and any of them can be damaged by an acute injury, an overuse injury, a condition or the wear-and-tear of everyday life.
Arthroscopy allows us to see inside your knee joint without making a large incision. A surgeon inserts a narrow tube with a fiber-optic video camera through an incision approximately the size of a buttonhole. The view of the interior of your joint is transmitted to a video monitor so the surgeon can examine the internal structures for diagnostic purposes. Surgeons can also repair some types of damage using arthroscopic techniques, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted into the joint through additional small incisions.
This technique is significantly less invasive than traditional “open” knee surgery, which has several advantages:
Your physician may recommend knee arthroscopy if previous attempts to treat your concerns with conservative measures have failed. Some of the most common arthroscopic procedures performed on the knee joint include:
The symptoms you experience with a knee injury depend on the part of your knee that’s damaged and the type of injury. The most common knee injury symptoms include:
Not all kinds of knee pain are managed best with arthroscopy, or with surgery at all. Determining the most effective solution for each individual person’s case is a complex process that requires training and experience. See an orthopaedic doctor for a treatment recommendation based on your individual condition.
The ideal candidates for knee arthroscopy have one or more of the concerns listed above, are in good health generally and have realistic expectations of what arthroscopic surgery can achieve. Although arthroscopy is a safe technique with low complication rates, it is not right for everyone. You may not be eligible if you have certain medical conditions or active infections. If you have advanced knee damage, you may require open surgery to fully address your needs. Your Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio surgeon will determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment during a consultation.
On the day of your procedure, your knee will be cleaned and sterilized, and you will be given anesthesia. You will be positioned so that there’s a clear view of the inside of your knee through the arthroscope. Your OIO surgeon will begin the procedure by making a small incision for the camera. If your condition can be treated arthroscopically, your surgeon will also make incisions in different areas around your knee for surgical instruments. Your surgeon will use images transmitted from the camera to the video screen to observe the area and guide the instruments. When the necessary adjustments are made, your surgeon will remove the arthroscopic tools and close the incisions.
Because arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home soon after surgery and recover in familiar surroundings. Your OIO medical team will give you instructions regarding how to care for your incisions, weight-bearing restrictions, activities to avoid and exercises to perform to aid the healing process. You can expect to feel some discomfort in your knee, but it is usually less than after open surgery, and you may find that you need little or no pain medication. A rehabilitation program may play a critical role in restoring range of motion in your knee.
You will return at later dates for follow-up visits, during which your physician will monitor your healing. It is important to attend all of these appointments to receive further guidance on when you can return to daily activities.
You may not realize how much you rely on your knees until you injure one. After all, your knees enable you to sit, stand, walk, dance and run — when you suffer from a knee injury, it can limit your ability to perform even the most simple tasks. The Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio provides both conservative and surgical care for knee injuries of all kinds. From receiving an accurate diagnosis to undergoing surgical repair, our team will guide you along every step of your journey to a fulfilling and mobile life.