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HomeSurgeryWhat Is The Recovery Time For Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

What Is The Recovery Time For Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Will I Need Crutches Or A Brace

What is Arthroscopic Surgery?

You will be given crutches when you leave hospital. These are designed to make walking less painful but if you don’t need to use them you don’t have to. Most of the time, you will not need a brace. Sometimes if you have damaged ligaments or a repair of your meniscus has been performed you may need to wear a brace. If this is the case, you will be informed before you leave the hospital.

What Exercises Should I Do After Surgery

You are encouraged to bend and straighten your knee as much as pain allows immediately after standard knee arthroscopy. Remember, however, that your knee may be swollen and full motion may be difficult for the first few days. You may tighten your quadriceps muscle right after surgery and we encourage straight leg raises if they are not too painful. Massaging the patella with your leg straight is also beneficial. Using your fingers, push the patella in all four directions and hold it for 10 seconds in each direction. This helps prevent scar formation and tightness around the patella during the recovery period.

You can put as much weight on your leg as is comfortable immediately after surgery. Again, the usual need for crutches or a walker is about two or three days. Riding on an exercise bike, using a treadmill or elliptical machine, or just plain walking are all good exercises to begin once the knee is less painful. Do not be surprised if your knee has a tendency to swell after such activities remember to ice and elevate the knee afterwards.

When Can I Drive

You can drive as soon as you feel comfortable, but YOU MUST NOT DRIVE IF YOU ARE TAKING NARCOTICS! If you drive a standard transmission vehicle and had surgery on your left knee, you should wait one week before driving to avoid causing more pain/irritation from operating the clutch. If you need to drive long distances within two weeks after your surgery, you should take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk for 10 minutes per hour to decrease the risk of a blood clot forming.

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Recovery From Arthroscopic Knee Repair Surgery

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Recovery times vary depending on each persons circumstance. Age, injury, health status and the ability and commitment to follow through with physical therapy will all impact healing time. However, it is important to understand that it may take many months to feel better. Arthroscopic knee repair in minimally invasive surgery uses local or spinal anesthesia, small incisions and offers less bleeding with faster healing times and less damage to soft tissue. Arthroscopy is often an outpatient procedure. ACL reconstruction and meniscus tear repairs are often done together, arthroscopically. The orthopedic specialists at Orthopedic Specialists North County are experts in arthroscopic knee procedures.

Questions To Ask Your Surgeon About Arthroscopy

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Side Effects

Should I take my daily medicines before surgery? How much pain can I expect after surgery and how will the pain be controlled? Will I need crutches or a walker following surgery? For how long? Where can I get these? Should I get them before surgery? Should I bring them to the hospital with me? Will I need a brace? For how long? Where do I get one? Should I get it before surgery? Should I bring it to the hospital with me? How soon will I be able to drive? How soon until I can get back to my normal activities?

How soon can I go back to work?

How soon until I can get back to more strenuous activities like sports or exercise?

Write down your questions and the answers to these question so you dont forget.

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How Long Is Knee Arthroscopy Recovery

Knee arthroscopy isnt very invasive. For many individuals, this surgery takes no more than an hour, but the total time depends on the specific procedure. Youll 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 youve had the surgery performed is excellent.

Tips For Faster Recovery

As it is not a very invasive procedure, your surgeon usually completes it within an hour or two. It means you can walk with crutches and take fluids orally on the same day after your surgery. Here are a few tips to shorten knee arthroscopy recovery time:

  • Keep your leg elevated to reduce pain and swelling. Use icepacks for about half an hour for the first 48 hours after your surgery to alleviate swelling.
  • Be sure to avoid driving or operating equipment when you are taking prescription pain medications after your surgery.
  • Make sure to keep your wound clean and dry. While you will have a dressing covering your knee, you should avoid taking a shower for the first few days. If you really want to take a bath, cover your dressing with a plastic bag first. Replace your dressings immediately if they become wet and fall off. Your doctor will remove all the dressings usually in 5-10 days.
  • Perform exercises to help strengthen your knee. Talk to your doctor about certain exercises you can safely perform to restore motion and strengthen the muscles of your knee and leg. You may even benefit from physical therapy.

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What Happens When I Leave Hospital

You will need someone to pick you up from the hospital and stay with you on the night of your surgery. You will probably feel a bit sleepy and might need some pain killers.

You will be given written instructions on how to look after your wound, what warning signs to look out for and what to do with your dressings. You will also be given a sheet of exercises to get you started after your operation. A physiotherapist may visit you while you are in hospital to teach you these exercises.

You should keep the wounds dry until you are seen by your specialist.

When Is Arthroscopy Procedure Recommended


Before you inquire about the time it takes to recover from knee arthroscopy, you may be asking exactly why you need to undergo this surgical procedure. This usually happens when you have serious knee pain. In some cases, your doctor orders a knee arthroscopy to identify or confirm the condition causing your pain.

Arthroscopic surgery can help diagnose and treat a number of knee injuries, including torn posterior or anterior cruciate ligaments, torn meniscus, factures in the knee bones, torn cartilage in the joint and swollen lining in the joint. It also proves effective in the removal of a Baker’s cyst.

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What Are The Benefits Of Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is an effective tool in diagnosing your joint condition and for confirming treatment for knee problems such as meniscus tears and cartilage wear. An arthroscopy can ultimately provide relief from knee pain and improve mobility. Maintaining a normal and active lifestyle with greater comfort is a key benefit of this procedure.

What Are The Alternatives To Knee Arthroscopy

Your doctor may be able to diagnose your knee problem by examining your knee, or by doing an X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

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 >

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Preparing For Knee Arthroscopy

Before your knee arthroscopy, youll meet the surgeon to discuss your operation. This may be different from whats described here because your operation will be designed to meet your individual needs. Your surgeon will explain how you can prepare for your operation in advance.

If you smoke, youll be asked to stop. Smoking makes you more likely to get an infection after surgery, which can slow down your recovery. It can also make your surgery less likely to work and more likely to lead to complications.Knee arthroscopy is usually done under a general anaesthetic, but you may be able to have it under local anaesthetic. A local anaesthetic numbs your knee and youll stay awake during surgery. If you have a general anaesthetic, youll be asleep during the procedure. A general anaesthetic can make you sick, so its important not to eat or drink anything for a specific amount of time before your arthroscopy. Your healthcare team will give you clear instructions about this.

You may be asked to wear a compression stocking on your other leg. This will help to prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your leg, which can cause deep vein thrombosis . You may need to have an injection of an anti-clotting medicine as well.

Youll usually be able to have knee arthroscopy and go home from hospital on the same day. But if youve had a regional anaesthetic , you may need to stay overnight. Youll be able to leave the hospital once you can walk well enough again.

About Highgate Private Hospital

What You Need To Know About Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Nominated for the 2016 Laing Buisson Award for Nursing Practice, Highgate Private Hospital is a leading institution on sports injuries and arthroscopic surgery. Highgate has an expansive team of surgeons and consultants who specialise in sports trauma injuries and knee arthroscopy procedures available for consultations at your convenience.


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Why Tissue Repairs Are Different Than Removal

As previously stated, sometimes knee scopes are exploratory to assess the extent of tissue damage because physical tests and MRI results have been inconsistent or inconclusive.

It is important to distinguish the difference between the less involved debridement or loose body removal surgery, where damaged tissues are removed and articulating surfaces are cleaned up versus a REPAIR.

Once the surgeon is inside the joint to see and probe the integrity of the tissue, they can decide if just a clean up will suffice or if tissues need to be reconstructed or repaired.

The patient will consult with their Orthopedic Surgeon to discuss the benefits and risks of each procedure. Sometimes an Orthopedic surgeon recommends Physical Therapy or injections prior to choosing to perform a repair procedure.

A torn ligament such as an ACL or PCL will likely need repaired if the patient is wishing to return to higher levels of activities requiring a stable knee. The same could be said for a patient with a meniscus tear that needs to be repaired .

Patients with only an ACL or PCL reconstruction are likely weightbearingas tolerated with crutches immediately following surgery, whereas a meniscus repair will be non-weightbearing for 1-2 months to protect the integrity of the repair.

The surgery recovery timeline for these repairs is much longer than just a scope or cleaning up debridement procedure and will likely last 4-8 months in Physical Therapy depending on progress and goals.

Make Lifestyle Changes If Necessary

After healing from knee arthroscopy, if youre at risk of injuring the other knee, or you want to minimize your risk of additional knee problems in general, you may need to switch to lower-impact sports and activities until you feel ready to engage in high-impact ones. For example, if youre an avid outdoor runner a high-impact activity you might consider biking, swimming, or walking, so you can avoid putting so much pressure on your knees.

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Before The Knee Arthroscopy Procedure

Always tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your knee arthroscopy surgery:

  • You may be told to stop taking medicines that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen , naproxen , and other blood thinners.
  • Ask which medicines you should still take on the day of your surgery.
  • Tell your provider if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol .
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your provider for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing. It also leads to a higher rate of surgical complications.
  • Always let your provider know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you have before your surgery.

On the day of your knee arthroscopy surgery:

  • You will most often be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Take the medicines you have been told to take with a small sip of water.
  • You will be told when to arrive at the hospital.

If you are generally healthy, your knee arthroscopy will most likely be performed as an outpatient. This means you will not need to stay overnight at the hospital.

Be sure to inform your orthopaedic surgeon of any medications or supplements that you take. You may need to stop taking some of these before surgery.

What Is The Recovery Time

What Should I Expect After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery?

Everyone heals from their knee surgery at a different pace. If necessary, patients use crutches or a walker for one to three days after surgery. If your pain is minimal then you do not have to use crutches or a walker. Once more comfortable, most people are able to walk with just a slight limp within five days after surgery. Some people find a cane to be helpful. If you use a cane, place it in the hand opposite the knee that was operated on.

It takes up to six weeks for the knee joint to re-establish normal joint fluid after arthroscopic surgery. Because of this, you may not realize the benefits of your surgery for four to six weeks. There is a high degree of variability in recovery times. Some patients are able to return to regular activities within two weeks, but most require roughly six weeks before they can resume full activities – including sports – comfortably. Reduction of pain and swelling and improvement in strength, motion, and coordination may continue for three to four months.

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Immediately After The Operation

Doctors have made big advances in pain management after total knee replacement over the last 10 to 15 years due to advancements in using regional nerve blocks, spinal blocks, and other methods of pain control.

During knee surgery, your healthcare team might either use a general anesthetic, where you will be fully asleep, or a localized anesthetic, where youre numb from the waist down but still awake.

After the surgery anesthesia wears off, your healthcare team can provide pain medication either orally or through an intravenous tube.

These medications may include a strong opiate or opioid such as morphine, fentanyl, or oxycodone, and are intended only for short-term use. Its important to note that larger doses over time can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Follow your doctors instructions to avoid adverse effects.

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.

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For What Diseases Or Conditions Is Arthroscopy Considered

Arthroscopy can be helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of many noninflammatory, inflammatory, and infectious types of arthritis as well as various injuries within the joint.

Noninflammatory degenerative arthritis, or osteoarthritis, can be seen using the arthroscope as frayed and irregular cartilage. A new procedure for the treatment of younger patients with an isolated injury to the cartilage covering the bone ends within a joint uses a “paste” of the patient’s own cartilage cells. The cells are harvested and grown in the laboratory and are then reimplanted at a later date in the knee with the use of an arthroscope.

In inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, some patients with isolated chronic joint swelling can sometimes benefit by arthroscopic removal of the inflamed joint tissue . The tissue lining the joint can be biopsied and examined under a microscope to determine the cause of the inflammation and discover infections, such as tuberculosis. Arthroscopy can provide more information in situations which cannot be diagnosed by simply aspirating and analyzing the joint fluid.

Common knee joint injuries for which arthroscopy is considered include cartilage tears , ligament strains and tears, and cartilage deterioration underneath the kneecap . Arthroscopy is commonly used in the evaluation of knees and shoulders but can also be used to examine and treat conditions of the hips, wrist, ankles, feet, spine, and elbows.


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