Many of us will experience stiffness or pain in our knees from time to time. This is usually after we've taken part in more strenuous activity than normal, like going for a long walk or skiing on holiday. While this type of pain tends to resolve itself after a day or two, if you're struggling with longer-term or more severe knee pain, or your knee is locking in place or giving way, you should always talk with a doctor to have it properly checked out.
While modern diagnostic equipment such as CT and MRI scans can provide a wealth of useful information to the trained eye, sometimes a knee arthroscopy can be extremely helpful in diagnosing and treating certain knee problems.
Knee arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery. Carried out under general anaesthetic, it provides an excellent way of assessing a range of knee problems without the need for more intrusive "open" surgery.
An arthroscope is a thin metal tube, about the width of a straw, with a bright light on one end. During the operation, I'll make two or three small incisions in the skin and carefully insert the arthroscope into the knee joint.
The arthroscope is connected to a monitor, which helps me to see very clearly exactly what is causing the pain in your knee. Whether your pain is being caused by damaged cartilage or a torn meniscus, arthroscopy provides me with the ability to see the precise location and extent of the problem.
As well as being an excellent diagnostic tool, arthroscopy can also be used to carry out surgical repair. I’m able to insert tiny surgical tools into your knee through the arthroscope and carry out the necessary treatments or repairs in order to get you out of pain.
Knee arthroscopy has a number of key advantages over traditional “open” knee surgery, including a lower risk of infection and a faster recovery. It is done under general anaesthetic and you are usually able to go home later the same day.
The most common reason I carry out knee arthroscopy is to repair damaged or torn menisci in the knee.
Each knee has two crescent-shaped structures called menisci. The medial meniscus is located on the inner aspect of the knee joint while the lateral meniscus is found on the outer aspect. The menisci serve a number of functions within the knee, including acting a bit like shock absorbers in the joint and helping to increase the stability of the joint.
Trauma to the knee can damage one or both menisci. This damage may be only fairly slight or may involve a full tear. Often, this type of injury happens while playing a sport like football or rugby, where the knee is involved in lots of twisting, turning movements and is at risk of being knocked.
When you visit with me at Circle, my priority is to accurately assess and diagnose the cause of your knee problem. Once we know what the cause is, we’ll be able to talk through any suitable treatment options.
To help with the diagnosis, I’ll talk with you about the symptoms you’re getting in your knee and carry out an examination of your knee, testing its movement, strength and function. I may arrange for you to have additional diagnostic tests such as CT, MRI or ultrasound if needed to confirm a diagnosis. These are all available at Circle, and can often be carried out at the same time as your consultation.
Should my examination and the results of any tests show any damage or tears to the menisci, I’ll advise you whether knee arthroscopy would be appropriate in managing and treating the problem.
Even though knee arthroscopy is keyhole surgery, it will still take some time for you to fully recover. Most people will need to be on crutches during the initial recovery and to take pain relief medication. You will also need to have some physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in your leg to regain optimal mobility and function in your knee.
All in all, you should expect it to be between 6 - 9 months before you will be able to return fully to sports.
There can be many reasons people have pain in their knee, from degenerative arthritis through to meniscal tears. There are some conditions that will require "open" surgery, such as the need for a total knee replacement, but other conditions can be treated very effectively through arthroscopy.
From your first consultation with me, my focus will be on getting you back to using your knee pain-free as quickly as possible.
It's easy to book a consultation with me at Circle. Just contact my private secretary who will be able to schedule you in for a time that's most convenient for you.