What is arthroscopic debridement of the knee?

Arthroscopic debridement is a surgical procedure that removes the broken down bits of cartilage and tissues to help reduce pain and improve movement. It is most commonly performed to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis so that you can regain much of the function of your knee while reducing pain.

This procedure is one of the most common orthopedic treatments in the United States with more than 650,000 procedures performed on the knee annually, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

What to expect with arthroscopic debridement

This surgery, like many arthroscopic procedures, is performed in an outpatient setting. You'll be able to go home the same day you have the procedure.

Your doctor will make a few small incisions in the skin around your knee. He uses a camera that projects the inside of your joint on a screen so he can navigate his way around the injury. The doctor uses another tool to wash away and suck out the debris from around the joint. He'll also remove any damaged parts of the bone or pieces not shaped properly.

You'll likely experience some pain in your joint in the days following the procedure. Your healthcare provider will send you home with some crutches so you can avoid putting weight on it.

Swelling typically goes down within the first week. Physical therapy will help you strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve movement. You'll be able to return to all of your normal activities, including sports, within four to six weeks of your operation.

Common conditions requiring arthroscopic debridement

Osteoarthritis is the main condition treated with arthroscopic debridement.

However, it can also treat the symptoms of knee injuries, such as a meniscus tear. A torn meniscus increases a person's chances of developing arthritis in the next 20 years. The surgery doesn't increase or decrease the risk, but it does help relieve symptoms of the tear.

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