Arthroscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure used to treat a variety of problems in the joints of the body. Arthroscopy involves the use of a pencil-sized instrument, called an arthroscope, inserted into the joint through a small incision in the skin. The arthroscope contains a camara, a lens, and a light, all miniaturized to fit inside the joint. Arthroscopy was initially used on the larger joints of the body such as the knee, but has now been improved and miniaturized so that it can be used on a variety of other joints, including the wrist.
Arthroscopy can be used both to diagnose and to treat problems in the wrist joint. In conditions such as chronic wrist pain from an unidentified cause, arthroscopy can assist in determining the cause of pain. Arthroscopic surgery also allows for the repair of a number of wrist conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts, wrist fractures, and tears of ligaments.
Although recovery time for arthroscopic surgery is less than that from conventional surgery, you will still need to rest your wrist and elevate it for several days following surgery. Frequent icing and exercises provided by your physical therapist will also speed your recovery. Due to the minimally invasive nature of arthroscopy, complications are fewer and generally less severe than those possible from conventional surgery.