Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat injuries and abnormalities within the joints. This procedure is commonly used to confirm a diagnosis made by physical examination and imaging techniques. It can also be used to treat conditions within the joints, if they are not too complicated.
Although most commonly performed in the knee and hip, arthroscopy can also be beneficial in diagnosing and treating conditions of the ankle joint. While ankle surgery once required an invasive open procedure that left patients with long hospital stays and recovery times, many of those procedures can now be performed with the simpler, less invasive arthroscopy.
What is this procedure used for?
Ankle arthroscopy can be used to treat a wide range of ankle conditions and relieve the chronic pain often associated with these conditions. Ankle arthroscopy is often successful in treating:
- Tissue bands
- Ligament tears
- Articular cartilage damage
- Bone spurs
Many of these procedures once required open surgery in order to access the ankle and treat the condition. Oftentimes, your surgeon will perform ankle arthroscopy to confirm the diagnosis of a certain condition, and then discover that the condition can be treated as well through this minimally invasive procedure.
How is this procedure performed?
Ankle arthroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis and uses tiny incisions to access the ankle joint. During this procedure, a camera tube called an arthroscope is inserted into one of the incisions and small surgical instruments into the others. The arthroscope allows the surgeon to visually examine the ankle joint and guide the instruments to the area for treatment.
The surgical instruments will be inserted if needed to remove or repair tissue within the ankle joint. The instruments and arthroscope are then removed and the incisions are closed with sutures. The arthroscopy procedure usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to perform.
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Patients may experience some pressure, but otherwise the actual procedure is basically painless. The small incisions help greatly reduce the recovery time needed from this procedure, and allow patients to return to work and other regular activities much sooner. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for six weeks after this procedure.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Arthroscopy offers many benefits over a traditional open surgery because of its minimally invasive nature. This procedure has reduced the trauma and severity associated with many ankle procedures, and offers patients the opportunity to get relief from their pain through a simple, outpatient procedure.
Ankle arthroscopy offers patients:
- Shorter recovery times
- Less scarring
- Less bleeding
- Smaller incisions
- No cutting of muscles or tendons
- Less pain and discomfort
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
While ankle arthroscopy is considered a safe procedure overall, there are certain risks associated with any surgical procedure. Some of these risks include infection, nerve damage, and tingling, numbness and burning sensations. These risks are considered rare, as most patients undergo this procedure with little to no complications.
Although ankle arthroscopy is a safe procedure that can benefit many patients, it is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor to learn more about this procedure and to find out if it is right for you.
Shin Splints Treatment
A shin splint, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is a painful condition in the shins that is often associated with exercise. Several causes have been identified, including the overuse of the tibialis muscles, inflexibility of the calves (specifically the soleus and gastrocnemius), and Pes Planus (commonly "flat feet"). A less frequent but more severe cause is compartment syndrome, when swelling in the anterior compartment of the leg becomes constricted by the rigid connective tissues surrounding it. This is the only scenario where shin splints may require surgery.
The most efficient method of avoiding shin splints is to enter new exercise programs slowly and cautiously; it is better to work up to strenuous regimens than to start out tough and assume you will adapt. Additionally, custom orthotics and correctly sized running shoes can help distribute the stress on the shin better.
If already afflicted by shin splints, the most prudent course of action is discontinuing the exercise that is causing it. Other methods such as icing, taping and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be effective in reducing symptoms while the patient continues exercising. Physical therapy is also a possibility in order to better strengthen and stretch the problematic muscles without overstressing them. If pain continues despite treatment or reducing exercise intensity, or if the pain gets significantly worse during exercise, immediate medical attention may be required.