Osteoarthritis is a most common form of arthritis which affects the articular cartilage (tissue covering the ends of the bones) of the knee and other joints such as shoulder, hip, ankle and foot. The articular cartilage cushions the joint so that there is smooth and pain-free movement between the bones in the joint. In this condition, the articular cartilage is completely worn off, as a result the ends of the bones rub against each other causing pain and inflammation.
Other symptoms include restricted motion of the knee, stiffness in the muscles, and redness and warmth around the joint.
Your doctor will perform physical examination to look for joint swelling, tenderness, and limited range of motion. X-ray of the affected joint may be taken to see the loss of joint space.
If the conservative treatment such as medications and physical therapy does not provide relief then surgery may be considered as the last treatment option.
Arthroscopic debridement or a clean-up is a surgical procedure performed using an arthroscope. In this procedure, the cartilage or the bone that is damaged is removed using surgical instruments and the edges of the articular cartilage that are rough will be smoothened. A wash out or joint lavage is done using a special tool to spray jets of fluid to wash and suck out to remove the remaining debris around the joint. After lavage, any remaining loose bodies or fragments are removed. Debridement may help to reduce pain. It does not slow down the progression of arthritis, and may actually accelerate the deterioration.
If you still observe pain and other symptoms because of the underlying cause of arthritis, repeat debridement procedure is unlikely to be of benefit.