Reasons For Needing Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Candidates for arthroscopic surgery range from someone who has gradually worsening pain with knee crepitus or knee grinding to someone with ligament or cartilage damage needing to be repaired or removed.
Common complaints from patients are my knee hurts when I bend it and straighten it or I have a sharp pain in my knee.
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss the recovery process of common and less involved surgeries of arthroscopic debridement and partial meniscectomy knee surgeries, sometimes referred to as knee scopes.
The goal of this article is to talk about the recovery of a routine debridement or meniscectomy, however its worth taking a second to explain why they differ from more involved procedures.
What Are My Treatment Options
Treatment for a meniscus tear will depend on its size, what kind it is, and where itâs located within the cartilage. Most likely, your doctor will recommend that you rest, use pain relievers, and apply ice to you knee to keep the swelling down. They may also suggest physical therapy. This will help to strengthen the muscles around your knee and keep it stable.
If these treatments donât work — or if your injury is severe — they might recommend surgery. To be sure, your doctor will probably have an MRI done. And they might look at the tear with an arthroscope. Thatâs a thin tool that has a camera and light at the end. It allows doctors to see inside your joints.
If your doctorâs exam shows your meniscus tear is mild , you may not need surgery. If itâs Grade 3, you probably will. Your doctor might choose to do any of the following:
- Arthroscopic repair. Your doctor will make small cuts in your knee. Theyâll insert an arthroscope to get a good look at the tear. Then theyâll place small devices that look like darts along the tear to stitch it up. Your body will absorb these over time.
- Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. Your doctor will remove a piece of the torn meniscus so your knee can function normally.
- Arthroscopic total meniscectomy. During this procedure, your doctor will remove the whole meniscus.
How Soon Will I Recover From Knee Arthroscopy Surgery
- Depending on the level of repair done the arthroscopy procedure causes very little tissue damage
- Most patients recovery fairly quickly
- Your knee will be swollen and sore for the first week following your arthroscopy
- Most patients return to normal activity levels within 2 – 3 weeks
- Be sure and discuss any concerns regarding your recovery with your orthopaedic surgeon.
Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following knee arthroscopy. As with any surgery there can be complications:
- Infection of the surgical site
- Blood clots
- Difficulty passing urine.
Quick Recovery From Knee Arthroscopy Is Common
Knee arthroscopy is performed by inserting a tiny camera through a very small incision in the knee. Using this method gives the surgeon a clear view of the interior of the knee and allows them to diagnose and treat knee problems with great accuracy. This technique is becoming very common.
In Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, January 2008 edition, a study was published. This study was the first to log the recovery time of several patients who had knee arthroscopy. According to this study, eighty percent of patients who had knee arthroscopy were able to go back to light activities like yard work and walking only a week or so after surgery.
Dr. James Lubowitz is the lead author of this study. He is also the director at the Taos Orthopedic Institute of New Mexico. He relates that the main question patients have is “When can I get back to my regular activities?” He is pleased to report that this study, gives a very definitive answer to this commonly asked question.
Be sure that your orthopedic surgeon knows about any medications or nutritional supplements you are taking. He or she will let you know if you should stop taking them before your surgery.
How Long Is The Recovery
There are many factors at play here. The quickest recovery is if you are young fit and healthy, have good muscle strength and only have a small operation. If you are older, have poor muscles, have significant arthritis in the knee or have a long or extensive operation your recovery will be slower. After a knee scope, the muscles of the thigh do not function very well and they can become weak very quickly. This, in turn, makes the knee feel sore and unstable and can prolong swelling. You will be given some physiotherapy exercises and it is important to perform them twice a day for a few weeks until your muscle function has returned. You should also take regular pain killers and ice the knee for the first week or so.
For a simple medial meniscal tear, you should be able to return to a desk job after a week, be able to spend a few hours on your feet after 2 weeks and be able to return to gentle exercise or heavy work after about 4 weeks. Lateral meniscal tears may take twice as long to recover from. It is common to have some mild pain and swelling for a few weeks after your surgery.
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Possible Benefits Of Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair
The meniscus is an important structure for load transmission and shock absorption in the knee. The knee is subjected to up to 5 times body weight during activity, and half this force is transmitted through the meniscus with the knee straight, and 85% of the force goes through the meniscus with the knee bent ninety degrees. Loss of the meniscus increases the pressure on the articular cartilage, which leads to degenerative changes. A successful meniscus repair preserves meniscus tissue and mitigates these changes.
Returning To Normal Activities
Your surgeon or care team will let you know how long it’s likely to take for you to fully recover and what activities you should avoid until you’re feeling better.
You’ll probably need a week or two off work, but this varies from person to person. It will depend on how quickly you recover and whether your job involves strenuous activity that could damage the joint.
You can drive when you no longer have pain and have enough strength to safely do an emergency stop. This may not be for a few weeks or several months after surgery. Your surgeon can give you more specific advice.
They’ll also be able to advise you about how long it will be before you can do strenuous physical activities, such as sport and heavy lifting. For many people, this is around 6 weeks after surgery, but sometimes it may not be for several months.
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The Risks Associated With Knee Arthroscopy
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks inherent in an arthroscopic knee surgery. Though rare, you can experience excessive bleeding. Theres also the possibility of infection. Because the procedure involves the use of anesthesia, you may have an allergic reaction or breathing challenges from the anesthetic.
You can expect some stiffness in the knee after the surgery, even though the procedure is minimally invasive. Theres also always a risk that nerves, cartilage, blood vessels and ligaments may be damaged.
What Is The Best Knee Brace For A Torn Meniscus
Compression sleeves are often the best knee brace for a torn meniscus if you also suffer from arthritic knees or from a degenerative condition. They are also a good choice for an athlete at the end of the rehabilitation process and requiring compression therapy to reduce pain and promote more rapid healing.
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What To Expect After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Arthroscopy is a very useful form of surgery that is used for the treatment of a number of problems. It is important to remember that every surgery may cause some limitations during the recovery period. The amount of damage, injury or disease in the joint will strongly influence the outcome of your arthroscopy and your recovery time.
For instance, if your knee is damaged because of jogging, it is likely that there will be a great deal of wear and tear. The weight bearing part of your knee and your articular cushion may be completely gone. In this case, you may not be able to achieve complete recovery. It will probably be necessary for you to engage in only low impact exercise following surgery.
Another thing that will greatly influence your recovery is your rehabilitation program and the extent to which you engage in physical exercise. Having a formal program of physical therapy is quite beneficial.
Your condition at the time of surgery also influences the outcome. While your injury may be the same as that of a professional athlete, your recovery will probably not be as speedy or complete. This is because the professional athlete is likely to have stronger muscles around the knee.
If you are a heavy laborer, you may need more recovery time before returning to work than, for example, an office worker.
What Are The Risks Of Knee Arthroscopy
While knee arthroscopy is a safe procedure for the treatment of knee injuries, there are some risks that patients should be aware of. Depending on the patient and joint condition, these risks may include swelling and stiffness of the joint, bleeding, blood clots, infection, or continuing knee problems.
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How Long Is Knee Arthroscopy Recovery
Knee arthroscopy isn’t very invasive. For many individuals, this surgery takes no more than an hour, but the total time depends on the specific procedure. You’ll likely be able to go home for recovery on the same day of your procedure. You should use dressing and an ice pack on your knee. The ice helps minimize swelling and pain.
At home, you will want to have a family member or friend look after you, at least on your first day. Elevate your leg as much as possible and put ice on it for a couple of days. Make sure you change your dressing as directed. Be certain you go to your follow-up appointment with your knee arthroscopy surgeon, which will likely be several days after your surgery.
Your doctor will likely prescribe you an exercise regimen you can perform at home that will help with your knee recovery, or they may suggest a physical therapist help you regain normal knee function. The exercises prescribed are necessary for helping to strengthen your muscles and restore full range of motion. With the proper care, your outcome after you’ve had the surgery performed is excellent.
Why Do I Need Knee Arthroscopy
Your doctor may recommend that you undergo a knee arthroscopy if youre experiencing knee pain. Your doctor might have already diagnosed the condition causing your pain, or they may order the arthroscopy to help find a diagnosis. In either case, an arthroscopy is a useful way for doctors to confirm the source of knee pain and treat the problem.
Arthroscopic surgery can diagnose and treat knee injuries, including:
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What Are The Alternatives To Knee Arthroscopy
Some knee problems can be treated using physiotherapy and medicines.
You can access a range of treatments on a pay as you go basis, including physiotherapy. Find out more about physiotherapy >
Can There Be Any Complications After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
This procedure involves a major surgery conducted under general anesthesia. At our Orthopaedic Surgery Center, NC we have the advantage of a highly qualified team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and physical therapists all devoted to patient safety and enhancing efficacy. However, there are still risks linked to the procedure. Although uncommon, complications can include:
- excessive bleeding from the wounds or soaking the dressing after the operation
- excessive swelling
- fluid leakage from the incisions after seven days.
If you are concerned in any way, please contact your surgeon atorthopedic surgery center, NC.
If you develop a fever, severe pain or significant wound problems, you will need to see someone as soon as possible
TheRaleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Centers board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons bring together many years of experience to manage and treat joint complications resulting from degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis, musculoskeletal disease or joint trauma.
To schedule an appointment with one of our surgeon atorthopedic surgery center, NC, please call 919-719-3070
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How Is A Synovectomy Performed
There are two basic forms of synovectomy. It may be performed either as an open surgical procedure or with the aid of an arthroscope, in which the orthopedic surgeon uses miniaturized instruments, fiberoptic technology and a tiny camera inserted through very small incisions in the skin. Magnified pictures from the camera are projected onto a television monitor in the operating suite, guiding the surgeon throughout the procedure.
At HSS, many synovectomies are performed arthroscopically, but the choice of technique is often dictated by the affected joint. Using arthroscopy avoids the need for large incisions an advantage if repeat synovectomies are needed and allows for a faster rehabilitation. “It probably offers a more thorough removal of synovial tissue, as well,” says Dr. Figgie. “But it is considerably more time-consuming than open surgery, and in some joints, more technically difficult to perform.”
About Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair
Surgery for a meniscus tear is not an emergency. Arthroscopic meniscus repair is an elective procedure that can be scheduled to minimize disruption of patients lives. Results are maximized by repairing meniscus tears within the first two months of injury.
All surgery has risks. There is likely nothing you could imagine could go wrong that has not gone wrong at some time. That being said, meniscus repair is a safe procedure with a complication rate of 1.3%. The most common complications are injuries to skin nerves, the vast majority of which resolve without additional procedures by three months post surgery. Injury to larger nerves or blood vessels is rare, as are blood clots. Knee stiffness, infections, and other problems are uncommon, but can occur. An experienced surgical team uses special techniques to minimize these risks, but unfortunately they cannot be completely eliminated.
Meniscus repair is optimally performed within the first two months after meniscus tear to maximize meniscus healing. Walking on a knee that is locked may damage the meniscus further and make a tear unrepairable. Squatting should be avoided prior to surgery, as that may displace a piece of meniscus into the joint and cause locking.
The surgeons office should provide a reasonable estimate of the surgeons fees, the hospital fee, the anesthesia fee, and the degree to which these should be covered by the patients insurance.
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Goal Of Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair
The goal of meniscus surgery is to preserve healthy meniscus tissue. A meniscus tear requires a blood supply to heal. Only the outer third portion of the meniscus has blood supply to enable healing of a tear. Repairs are generally limited to this peripheral region of the meniscus.
Many types of meniscus tears occur in the region of the meniscus without adequate blood supply for healing. Meniscus removal is generally recommended for tears to regions of the meniscus without blood supply. Please see arthroscopic meniscectomy for more information.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Knee Arthroscopy Surgery
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What Is Knee Arthroscopy
Your doctor may recommend you have a knee arthroscopy if you have ongoing knee pain and other symptoms. If you have a knee arthroscopy, your surgeon will look inside your knee with a camera.
Knee arthroscopy may not make your knee pain and stiffness better if you already have osteoarthritis. So its not often recommended to people who only have osteoarthritis pain. But you may be offered an arthroscopy if:
- you have osteoarthritis and your knee also catches or gives way
- weight loss and exercise havent helped your osteoarthritis after at least three months
During a knee arthroscopy, your surgeon may also:
- treat your knee your surgeon may repair or remove any damaged tissue and cartilage
- take small tissue samples , which may help to diagnose problems such as an infection
- do some more complicated surgery, including surgery to repair torn knee ligaments or to treat an unstable kneecap
Your surgeon will use an arthroscope and small surgical instruments during your knee surgery. Images are shown on a screen. Your surgeon or doctor can save these images to show you whats wrong with your knee after your surgery.
You should recover more quickly from knee arthroscopy than if you have open knee surgery.
How Long Do I Need To Use A Bandage
The initial bandage often gets soaked with fluid and blood. Drainage after surgery should gradually decrease after 48 hours, and then Band-Aids are usually sufficient over the small incisions. If desired, dry sterile gauze pads and an Ace wrap can be continued to protect the incisions from irritation from clothing, pets, young children, etc. Once the incisions are completely dry the use of a bandage is optional.
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