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What You Need to Know About Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery

The wrist is made up of a complicated combination of ligaments, bones, tendons, joints, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. When something goes wrong in any part of the wrist, it can cause pain, swelling, or loss of function. When other treatments, including rest, medication, or physical therapy, do not help, arthroscopic wrist surgery may be considered to help treat or diagnose the wrist injury or condition. Here is what you need to know about arthroscopic wrist surgery.

What is Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery?

Arthroscopic wrist surgery is a minimally-invasive procedure to help the doctor see inside the joint. During wrist arthroscopy, a narrow tube with a small camera on the end is placed through a small incision in the wrist. The inside of the wrist is then projected onto a screen to help the doctor get a better idea of what may be wrong in the wrist. The surgeon may need to make a few small incisions in the wrist to ensure the camera can get in position to record all areas of the wrist.

Arthroscopic wrist surgery has become one of the most common forms of arthroscopy, along with knee and shoulder. Since it involves very small cuts, this treatment disrupts less tissue than other surgeries to the area. This means patients experience less pain, stiffness, and swelling. The recovery time for this surgery is much shorter than typical surgeries as well.  

Who Needs Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is often recommended to patients after other, more conservative, treatment options have not offered relief. It is often performed if a patient has fallen on or twisted the wrist, has suffered a wrist fracture, or is experiencing wrist pain, swelling, or clicks.

This procedure may also be conducted to help align wrist fractures, remove ganglion cysts from the wrist, or treat an infection at the source. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, arthroscopic wrist surgery can be used to remove excess joint lining in order to ease inflammation.

What to Expect During the Procedure

Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery is typically performed at an outpatient facility. Regional anesthesia will be used to numb the hand and arm, so the patient can expect to feel no pain during the treatment. Once the area is numb, the surgeon will create a few small incisions in the wrist to insert the camera. The patient should be able to return home the same day as the procedure.

The Recovery Period

After the surgery is complete, the doctor will place a bandage on the wrist to prevent any movement. The bandage will also work to protect the area and offer pain relief. The patient may also be given a sling or brace to help stabilize the wrist. Even right after surgery, the fingers should be able to move without trouble. Finger movement is encouraged to limit swelling and stiffness in the hands. Patients will also receive instructions for how to care for the wrist after surgery. This may include a list of off-limit activities, therapy options, wound care guidelines, and exercise restrictions. Unlike traditional procedures that can have a recovery time of up to three months, arthroscopic wrist surgery patients are expected to have a full recovery within four weeks.

Arthroscopic surgery is a great option for those seeking relief from continual wrist pain. Because of the minimally-invasive nature of the procedure, patients can experience less post-op discomfort and get back to their regular routine of work, exercise, and sports in a shorter period of time.

Do you have questions about Arthroscopic Wrist Surgery? Schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at Woodlands Sports Medicine today.

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