Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication (NSAIDS) have become one of the most popular medications in the world. There are many different NSAIDS, at least twenty in the U.S., but they are all related to each other. Unlike corticosteroids, these medications block inflammation by a different pathway. They are effective in reducing the pain and swelling associated with many orthopaedic conditions.
Aspirin was the first NSAID. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) is by far the most popular. Other NSAIDS have become available for over the counter use (Aleve, Orudis) recently, and you can expect many more to be available soon. Generally, the over-the-counter medication is identical to the prescribed medication, but is a smaller dose. There are once a day NSAIDS (Relafen, Daypro, Orudis and others) that are more convenient to take.
All medications have side effects, and the most common side effect from NSAIDS is stomach or gastrointestinal upset. Therefore, NSAIDS should be taken with food, and discontinued if abdominal pain persists. Another side effect of NSAIDS is interfering in the normal blood clotting mechanism. Patients on chronic NSAID use may notice easy bruisability, bleeding gums, or other signs of 'thinned blood'.
Recently, a new type of NSAID has been developed. All of the previous NSAIDS have worked by interfering with the 'COX1' enzyme. Unfortunately, COX1 is also involved is protecting the stomach, the blood coagulation process, and many other important bodily functions. The COX2 enzyme is specific for inflammation, and COX2 inhibitors (Celebrex, Vioxx) were recently approved by the FDA. Other COX2 inhibitors are expected soon. The advantage of these new medications is that they do not bother the stomach, can be taken without food, and do not interfere in the clotting process.
Every person responds differently to NSAIDS. Some people respond to most of them, and for other people only a few different NSAIDS may work. If an NSAID is ineffective, have your doctor change you to one in a different class.
The arthroscope is a fiberoptic camera that allows the Orthopedic Surgeon to see inside many of the joints in the body, without having to cut those joints open with a large incision. The Arthroscope is a long thin tube, shaped like a straw. They come in various sizes, depending on the size of the joint that is being examined. A camera is attached to the end of the Arthroscope that is outside the body, and this is connected to a television monitor. Thus, one can see the inside of a joint clearly, and magnified many times, on the television monitor in the Operating Room. Often, irrigating fluid is pumped into the joint through the arthroscope cannula, to distend the joint, control any mild bleeding, and improve visualization. Frequently the interested patient can watch along with the rest of us in the Operating Room (only if they want to!)
With the arthroscope, we can now visualize the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle joints. In most cases, the arthroscope gives us an even better picture than if we had to cut open the joint, and is often the only way to visualize certain structures in the body.
During the initial development of the arthroscope, its value was primarily in diagnosis. Now however, many procedures have been developed with arthroscopic techniques, and new arthroscopic instruments have been designed. Often the arthroscopic procedure is superior to the open technique, as there is no need to open a joint and cause additional trauma and scarring. Damaged tissue can be removed or repaired, and many highly sophisticated reconstuctive procedures are performed using the arthroscope.
There are many potential advantages to arthroscopic surgery. In addition to superior visualization, the avoidance of a large incision means less pain, less scarring, and faster healing. Usually only a few tiny puncture wounds are required, and these heal in a few days. This allows earlier motion (when appropriate), and better results.
There are some limitations to arthroscopic surgery, and certainly not every procedure is appropriate for this technique. A well-performed open procedure is always superior to a poorly performed arthroscopic one, and the operating surgeon needs to know his abilities and limitations. There are usually advantages and disadvantages with regards to arthroscopy, and these need to be discussed in detail with your doctor.
Arthroscopic Surgery requires extensive training for the Orthopedic Surgeon. Many courses exist to help surgeons learn new techniques. The Arthroscopy Association of North America is an organization devoted to advancing the arthroscopic knowledge and abilities of its members.