Things to Remember Before and After Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment option for joint problems. Arthroscopy has radically changed the way joint pains are treated today. It is most commonly carried out for ankle, shoulder, elbow and knee joints but it can be done for wrists and hips as well. Arthroscopy is generally recommended for patients who suffer from pain or inflammation of the joints – hip, knee, elbow, ankle and shoulder where medicines and alternative treatments have failed to bring relief. People who have suffered traumatic injuries to the joints or have incurred damage to specific joints due to diseases or conditions like arthritis, bursitis, etc. are considered to be good candidates for arthroscopy.

Arthroscopy is done by orthopaedic surgeons who have been trained to perform surgeries or diagnostic procedures using the arthroscope which is inserted into the joint. The arthroscope is a flexible tube made of fiberoptic material and has a very small lighting system. The lighting system illuminates the insides of the joint while the camera projects the image of the parts of the joint like cartilage, tendons, ligaments, etc. on a screen or monitor. The arthroscopy surgeon can examine the joint and diagnose the cause of the problem and/or conduct surgery to alleviate the pain or swelling. Arthroscopy is the most common procedure for alleviating knee joint pain and shoulder problems.

Arthroscopy is done as an outpatient or day-care procedure and the patient can go home the same day. Being a keyhole surgery procedure, arthroscopy has a shorter recovery time with a lower risk of infection. If you have been recommended arthroscopy for your joint problems, keep the following things in mind as you prepare for the procedure:

No Drinks or Solids After Midnight

As with most surgeries, you must refrain from eating or drinking after midnight prior to the day of your arthroscopy. This will help to keep your blood sugar levels in order and help you in tolerating the general anesthesia.


Check with your doctor whether you must take your prescribed medications. If you suffer from conditions like diabetes, hypertension or cholesterol, consult with your arthroscopic surgeon and your general physician to know if you need to stop taking your medicines for the procedure. Certain medicines might interfere with the arthroscopy and therefore, you may be asked to put them on hold for your arthroscopy.

Arrange for Your Ride Home

After your arthroscopy, it will not be safe for you to drive back home. You will need help from family or friends or make a proper plan for your journey back home after the procedure.

Safe Environment for Recovery

Keep your home clean as you recover from your joint surgery. Arthroscopy is a day-care procedure and you will be discharged on the same day. Plan your recovery in a clean environment to minimize the risk of infection. Again, mobility would be an issue, especially if you have had arthroscopy of the knee or the hips and therefore, you need to arrange accordingly.

Plenty of Rest

Although arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive, it is still “surgery”. You will need plenty of rest to make the healing process work better and faster. The less stressed you are during your recovery, the faster you will be able to get back to your normal schedule. 

Expect Pain

After your surgery, you will experience some pain and swelling in the operated area. You may have to apply ice to reduce the swelling and have to take painkillers as prescribed by your arthroscopic surgeon. Depending on the joint that has been operated on, you may have to wear assisting devices like a knee brace, a shoulder sling or use crutches or walkers to move about until you recover completely.


After your arthroscopy, you need to undergo physiotherapy to regain the range of movement in the affected joints. You should start physiotherapy early after your arthroscopy to help in reducing the swelling and inflammation. In the next few weeks, depending on the specific joint, physiotherapy sessions can help you to regain strength and movement to help you get back to your normal daily life. 


Arthroscopy is an advanced and fairly common treatment for several problematic joint conditions. After a successful procedure, coupled with physiotherapy you can expect to be on the path to recovery in no time.

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