Arthroscopic surgery may be helpful in the early stages of arthritis.
A flexible, fiberoptic pencil-sized instrument (arthroscope) is inserted into the joint through a series of small incisions through the skin.
The arthroscope is fitted with a small camera and lighting system, as well as various instruments. The camera projects images of the joint on a television monitor. This enables the surgeon to look directly inside the joint and identify the problem areas.
Small instruments at the end of the arthroscope, such as probes, forceps, knives, and shavers, are used to clean the joint area of foreign tissue, inflamed tissue that lines the joint, and bony outgrowths (spurs).