Wrist arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows a hand surgeon to look inside the joint. Arthroscopic surgery is often performed after patients suffer an injury or when they experience pain, swelling and/or clicking in the wrist.
Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a number of conditions, including fractures, ganglion cysts, ligament tears, infection, joint inflammation and chronic pain. A commonly performed procedure, arthroscopic wrist surgery is often considered the best treatment approach for many patients.
The Wrist Arthroscopy Procedure
At the start of the arthroscopy, the hand surgeon makes one or more small cuts — typically less than a half-inch long — near the affected joint.
An arthroscope, or a small tool with a miniature camera, is then inserted and manipulated to provide different views of the bones, cartilage, ligaments and other joint tissues. For easy viewing, the three-dimensional images are projected to a television monitor.
If the hand surgeon discovers a problem, surgical tools are inserted to correct the issue as a part of the arthroscopic surgery.
Diagnostic Wrist Arthroscopy
Diagnostic arthroscopy is useful when the cause of joint pain is unclear or when pain persists after several months of non-invasive treatment.
Before scheduling diagnostic arthroscopic wrist surgery, the hand surgeon will perform a physical examination and thoroughly review the patient’s medical history. Provocative tests to locate the specific sources of pain may also be completed, and the patient may be asked to get X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or other diagnostic imaging tests.
Arthroscopic Surgery for Wrist Problems
Many different conditions can be treated through arthroscopy. Hand surgeons routinely use arthroscopic wrist surgery to treat patients with:
- Chronic wrist pain due to inflammation or damage following an injury
- Displaced, unstable and comminuted wrist fractures
- Ganglion cysts in or near the joints or tendons
- Ligament tears
- Tears in the wrist’s triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFFC)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Recovery from Wrist Arthroscopy
Because wrist arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, recovery is much quicker and involves less pain than open surgery.
After arthroscopic wrist surgery, the hand and arm are wrapped to immobilize the joint. The fingers are left to move freely, and movement is encouraged to help limit stiffness and swelling.
For the first few days following arthroscopy, the arm needs to be elevated. Ice and analgesic medication can help relieve pain. The hand surgeon will provide specific aftercare instructions on wound care, safe post-surgery activities and therapeutic exercises.
Is arthroscopic wrist surgery right for you? Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence in northern Utah can offer expert advice on diagnostic and treatment options for injuries and problems with the wrists, hands and fingers.
With more than 20 years of experience helping patients in the greater Salt Lake City area, Dr. Burrows has the qualifications and training to successfully perform a range of upper-extremity surgeries and non-invasive treatments. To find out if you can benefit from wrist arthroscopy, contact our West Valley City office today.