Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure during which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis and treatment of problems inside the joint. In an arthroscopic examination, a small incision is made in the patient's skin through which a pencil-sized instrument that has a small lens and lighting system (arthroscope) is passed.
Joints are formed where the ends of two or more bones touch. The smooth protective surface at the end of the bones within a joint is called "cartilage". Healthy cartilage serves as a protective cushion, allowing smooth and low-friction movement of the joint. If the cartilage becomes damaged by disease or injury, the tissues around the joint become inflamed, causing pain. With time, the cartilage wears away, allowing the rough edges of bone to rub against each other, causing more pain.