Every year, over 1.7 million arthroscopic surgeries are performed across the United States. Wrist arthroscopy is currently the third most common type of arthroscopy, after knee and shoulder arthroscopy.
Because the incisions the surgeon makes during wrist arthroscopy are quite small and disrupt less soft tissue than regular surgery, pain, swelling, and stiffness are minimal. Furthermore, recovery is usually faster, too.
Wrist arthroscopy may be necessary to relieve the painful symptoms resulting from damage due to injury or one of the numerous orthopedic conditions people, especially the elderly, struggle with, such as:
If a patient was deemed a good candidate for wrist arthroscopy, their orthopedic surgeon will ask for a thorough health evaluation to make sure the person does not have any medical problems that could interfere with the surgery or make it dangerous. Wrist arthroscopy is generally performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that the patient will not have to stay overnight in the hospital. Before the surgery, the patient will be administered regional nerve block anesthesia, which will only numb their hand and arm. They may also need to take a sedative to help them relax.
Most wrist arthroscopies take less than one hour to be carried out, but some may take longer if the surgeon has to deal with a more complex case. During the procedure, a narrow tube with a tiny camera on its end – the arthroscope – is inserted through one of the small incisions in the wrist. The inside of the wrist is subsequently projected onto a screen to help the surgeon get a clear idea of what is wrong with the wrist and then repair the damage. 3D images of the joint are projected through the camera onto a monitor over the entire wrist arthroscopy.
Unlike traditional surgery that may entail a recovery time of up to 3 months, wrist arthroscopy patients will typically experience a full recovery within four weeks. After the procedure, your doctor may ask the patient to use a protective bandage, sling, or splint to wrap their wrist to protect it while it is healing.