Ankle arthroscopy is routine. Usually two small incisions are necessary at the front and sometimes one or two at the back depending on where in the joint the problems are.to let me look from various angles & introduce instruments into the various parts of the joint. The incisions are just big enough to allow a telescope and another instrument into the joint. The telescope is less than 5mm in diameter, but gives me a very good view right around the lining of the joint. The other small incisions lets me do the work with various fine mechanical and motorised instruments.
The wounds I use are too small to have stitches & you wake up with dressings and a big soft bandage. I put some local anaesthetic into the wounds and the joint if the anaesthetist hasn’t numbed the whole arm so that it is a bit numb for some hours after the surgery. You have a sling to support the arm when you wake up.
Following any surgery, the exercises which you are given by the physiotherapist (with a written set of instructions), are very important. If something has been repaired then it is worth resting up until it has had a chance to heal up and take some force. Ankles seem to repay being treated with a bit more respect than knees in the forst week or so after keyhole surgery. I therefore suggest using crutches and only putting part of the body weight through the foot for the first week or so. This doesn’t stop you moving it, and physiotherapy is helpful right from the day of surgery.
After a bigger operation which has involved repairing or reconstructing the ligaments, or treating problems in the articular surface, the recovery is slower. After a ligament reconstruction, a partial plaster helps to rest the joint until the wound has healed and the swelling has mostly gone down - for about two weeks. Thereafter, the repair needs to be protected, usually in a removable light-weight splint for about another month. Duting this time there are some exercises which you can do to stop it getting too stiff, and getting too weak. I usually tell professional sportsmen that after an ankle stabilisation, they will be out for three months - 4-6 weeks for the ligaments to heal back where they have been stitched, and then another 6 weeks minimum to regain range of motion, strength, but most importantly coordination and proprioception (joint position sense). This is so that the ankle is used with the muscles working in a coordinated way to minimise the forces on any one area (see rehabilitation).