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Arthritis and Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is one of the most commonly performed procedures to help diagnose problems in the knee and shoulder, including arthritis. It's a minor surgical procedure and performed on an outpatient basis.

What Happens During Arthroscopy?

During arthroscopy, your doctor will first numb the area of the joint and give you some medication to help you relax during the procedure.

Then, the doctor inserts a tool called an arthroscope into your joint through several small incisions to see how much damage is in the joint. Many injuries can be repaired during arthroscopy.

Preparing for Arthroscopy

Before undergoing arthroscopy or any other procedure, be sure to tell your doctor about any medications or vitamins you are taking.

Be sure to leave all jewelry, watches, and other valuables at home.

Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and take off.

The night before arthroscopy, do not drink or eat anything unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. You'll be given some soapy sponges that you will need to scrub your knee or shoulder before you go in for the procedure.

Arrange to have someone drive you home afterwards.

After the Arthroscopy

When the arthroscopy is completed, you'll be taken to a recovery room where you'll rest for about an hour or more.

What Can I Expect After Arthroscopy?

You may feel drowsy for two to three days after an arthroscopy. You may also require some pain medications at regular intervals. This is normal. These symptoms will gradually subside.

  • Wound care. Keep the site of the procedure bandaged. The bandage needs to be kept clean and dry. When bathing, cover it with plastic.
  • Pain control. Apply ice for the first 24 hours to reduce swelling. If you've had arthroscopy on the knee, elevate the leg to reduce pain. Take pain medicines as prescribed and do not drink alcohol.
  • Activity. Return to activity as prescribed by your doctor. You may have to use crutches or wear a brace, and you will have to do some exercises as prescribed by your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 30, 2012
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