Knee arthroscopy is a common orthopaedic procedure that can help alleviate knee joint pain. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Medicine, more than 4 million knee arthroscopy procedures are performed globally each year. The procedure is most commonly performed to treat ligament and cartilage injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and meniscal tears. However, arthroscopy can also help surgeons diagnose and treat knee problems safely and more effectively.
During an arthroscopic procedure, the orthopaedic surgeon receives a clear view of the knee by inserting a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the joint. Once the arthroscope is inserted, the device sends real-time images to a high definition monitor, which allows the orthopaedic surgeon to see the structure of the knee in great detail.
Arthroscopy is used to diagnose, repair, or remove damaged tissue. After diagnosis, the orthopaedic surgeon may decide to operate. If surgical treatment is required, the orthopaedic surgeon will insert small instruments through other small incisions in the knee area
Common Knee Injuries
The most commonly treated knee injuries include ligament injuries: ACL tears, MCL and PCL injuries, and torn cartilage, such as a torn meniscus or runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain). These procedures are best treated arthroscopically, which provides numerous benefits for athletes and active patients who wish to continue walking, running, or sports with as little downtime as possible.
The most common knee injuries benefiting from knee arthroscopy include:
- Repair of torn cartilage (meniscus)
- Reconstruction of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)
- Removal of torn ligaments
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear
Tearing the ACL is a very common knee injury, particularly for athletes and younger, active patients. This injury usually occurs when changing direction rapidly, slowing down when running, or landing from a jump. Athletes most commonly affected include those that participate in sports such as skiing, basketball, and football.
A meniscus tear is usually the result of twisting or turning too quickly, often with a foot planted on the ground. Even though meniscal tears can affect patients young and old, elderly people are more at risk because the cartilaginous body degenerates, becoming brittle and prone to tearing over time.
Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain)
Patellofemoral pain, a common ailment of runners, can occur over time due to soft tissue irritation around the front of the knee, as well as overuse, muscle imbalance, and insufficient stretching. Pain usually occurs when walking up or down stairs, kneeling, and sitting with a bent knee for a long period of time.
Benefits of Knee Arthroscopy
Knee Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that benefits patients who cannot undergo open knee surgery. Potential benefits include reduced post-operative recovery time, as the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis. Additionally, because the incisions are so small, knee arthroscopy results in less scarring than open knee surgery procedures. Patients that undergo this procedure usually go back to their daily activities within a few days and return to previous levels of activity within a number of weeks. It is always recommended to discuss recovery time with your orthopaedic surgeon before restarting an exercise regimen.