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Here's When Arthroscopy Is the Right Course of Action

Here's When Arthroscopy Is the Right Course of Action

If you're experiencing ongoing joint pain or limited mobility, arthroscopy can be an excellent option for diagnosis and treatment. It is a minimally invasive technique that offers many advantages over traditional open surgery, including faster recovery times, less pain, less scarring, and lower risks of complications. 

Orthopedic sports medicine and shoulder surgeon Dr. Matthew Pifer specializes in minimally invasive approaches such as arthroscopy, which involves inserting a small camera into the joint to assess and treat joint problems. 

However, arthroscopy is not always the best option for every joint problem. In this post, we'll discuss when arthroscopy is the most appropriate course of action, factors to consider, and tips for preparing for the procedure.

Using arthroscopy as a diagnostic tool

One of the main advantages of arthroscopy is its diagnostic capabilities. When you have joint pain in the shoulder or knee, it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause without viewing the joint directly. Arthroscopy allows for a clear view of the joint, which can help identify problems such as cartilage damage and ligament tears. 

In cases where other diagnostic tests such as X-rays or MRI scans are inconclusive, arthroscopy may help to provide a definitive diagnosis.

Repairing damaged joints

Arthroscopy is commonly implemented for treating joint problems. The minimally invasive nature of the procedure means that it can be performed on an outpatient basis, and patients typically experience less pain and a faster recovery than with open surgery. 

Dr. Pifer can use arthroscopy to repair meniscus and ligament tears as well as repair and remove damaged cartilage. 

Managing arthritis

Arthroscopy can be a helpful treatment option for arthritis in certain situations. If you have arthritis that is localized to one joint, such as the knee or shoulder, arthroscopy may be the best course of action. 

Additionally, if your arthritis is causing mechanical symptoms like joint locking, catching, or clicking, Dr. Pifer may recommend arthroscopy to remove any loose pieces of cartilage or bone causing these symptoms.

If your arthritis is related to a previous joint injury, such as a torn meniscus, arthroscopy may be an effective treatment option as well. However, it's important to note that arthroscopy is typically most successful in treating early-stage arthritis and may not be the best option for advanced arthritis that affects multiple joints.

Dr. Pifer will evaluate your condition and determine whether arthroscopy is the best treatment option for you based on your individual needs and goals. 

Factors to consider

While arthroscopy can be a highly effective diagnostic and treatment option for many patients, there are situations where other treatment options are more appropriate. 

In some cases, arthroscopy may not be sufficient to address the severity of the joint problem. For example, if there is significant joint damage or advanced arthritis, open surgery may be a better option.

Arthroscopy may not be recommended for older patients or those with certain medical conditions that increase the risks of complications.

Consult with a specialist

If you’re experiencing joint pain or other symptoms, it’s important to consult with a specialist who can help determine the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment. Dr. Pifer can evaluate your symptoms and medical history, perform any necessary diagnostic tests, and recommend the most appropriate course of action. 

To schedule a consultation to discuss your treatment options, call our Santa Barbara, California, office at 805-967-9311, or request an appointment by filling out the request form here on our website. 

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