What is Ankle Arthroscopy?

Ankle Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure doctors use to get a better look at the joints in your ankle. With this procedure, we can diagnose and treat the problems inside your ankles. This can often be done during the same procedure. There are numerous reasons you may need to get the surgery, including inflammation or an injured joint. Damaged joints due to normal wear and tear can also make you a candidate for the procedure. It is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries. Because of this, it is highly effective due to significant advances in technology. The tools used for the procedure are small and require only small incisions. This is preferred over a more invasive “open” procedure.

Candidates for Ankle Arthroscopy

Due to the nature of the ankle, it can suffer injuries or issues from long-term wear and tear. While the ankle is strong and can support your body, it has many intricate parts. The muscles, tendons, bone, cartilage, and ligaments weave together to allow your ankle to have a good range of motion. However, when injury or natural wear and tear cause issues, ankle arthroscopy is an effective procedure to get your ankle back to full health.

This procedure can help with both diagnosis and treatment due to the tools used during the process. Below you will find some of the conditions that the procedure helps diagnose and treat.

  • Inflammation: The procedure can help remove the problem tissue. This will help reduce any pain or swelling you experience.
  • Injury: Some people experience sprains or repetitive injuries. The procedure can improve instability.
  • Osteoarthritis: The removal of damaged cartilage can reduce pain and swelling. It also has the potential to help prevent further damage.
  • Achilles Tendon Injury: The tendon can be stitched back together through the procedure. If it is too damaged, other tendons can be used to support the damaged tissue.
  • Toe Deformities: Depending on the specific issue, the doctor can realign your tendons and ligaments. This can help with toe stability.
  • Cartilage Damage: For those who have had sprained ankles, cartilage damage can occur. Even without a sprain, cartilage damage can lead to generalized arthritis in joints. This procedure can help repair the cartilage onto the surface of your joints.
  • Removal of Bone Spurs: This procedure involves cutting off the excess bone, which will improve the movement in your foot.
  • Removal of Loose Scar Tissue or Debris: Any excess matter in your ankle can cause pain and inflammation. The removal can also help improve the movement in your ankle.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Depending on your condition and unique needs, you will either need general or local anesthesia. This will be decided at your consultation so you will know in advance how you need to prepare.

During the procedure, Dr. Stein  will make a small cut in your foot. A small, thin tool called an arthroscope will be inserted into the small incision. The device has a camera lens and a light that allows the doctor to see inside your ankle joint. The image can be seen in real-time as the camera is projected onto a screen during the process. Once inside, the doctor will diagnose the issue and decide what surgery is needed. It may be done at the same time with certain attachments, meaning that the doctor can both diagnose and complete the necessary treatment at the same time. After the tool is removed, Dr. Stein will close up your cut.

Ankle Arthroscopy is almost always an outpatient surgical procedure. Below you will find the benefits of this surgical procedure.

  • Minimal risk
  • Fewer complications (as compared to an “open” procedure)
  • Decreased pain after the operation
  • Reduced recovery time
  • Less scarring

Recovery Time and Aftercare

You will likely have some pain after the procedure. You should take all prescribed medications after and contact us if you have a fever, pain that gets worse, significant swelling, numbness, or issues with your wound. Depending on the amount of pain you have, you may need crutches to assist you during the first few days of recovery. The benefit of this procedure is that patients report less pain than if they had open surgery. It also takes less time as it is less invasive.

One of the significant aspects of recovery is taking care of the wound from the incision. You will need to keep the area as dry as possible as it heals. If you shower, you will need to cover your foot with a plastic bag. Do not bath and let your foot go into the water. The stitches are usually removed around one to two weeks after surgery. We will let you know the specific steps for how to take care of your wound once you leave and before you come back for the follow-up appointment.

You can usually go back to work or school within three to five days. However, full recovery usually takes a few weeks to feel back to normal. We will provide you with a list of activities you can and cannot do during your recovery period.

Ankle Arthroscopy in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Stein is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in foot and ankle orthopedics. Dr. Stein is focused on getting patients back to health and, most importantly, ensuring that they prevent the same or similar injury from occurring again. Contact Dr. Benjamin Stein for an appointment.