Knee Arthroscopy FAQs
When can I take a shower or bath?
Remove the entire dressing the day following surgery. Place regular Band-Aids over the incisions. It is normal to have some blood on the original dressing. There may be some spotting from the incisions for a few days. Be prepared to experience some swelling for the first few weeks. This is normal and a reflection of the fluid in your knee at the time of arthroscopy. You may continue to use the ACE wrap to help with the swelling and any possible drainage. You may take a shower the day following the surgery. After showering, dry the incisions with a clean towel and replace the Band-Aids. The incisions will have a little redness around them while they heal. If they get redder each day or if you notice excessive drainage after the first 72 hours following surgery, call the office.
How long will I be on crutches?
In general crutches are not used after routine arthroscopy.
How long will I need pain medication?
Patients typically use narcotics for the first 1-7 days and most do not require any medication other than acetaminophen (Tylenol) after that.
How much pain will I have?
Pain varies from person to person, but most patients manage very well with a combination of narcotics and over-counter pain medicines (eg. Tylenol) after that.
Do I have to sleep on my back after surgery?
You may sleep in any position that is comfortable for you. (Hint: Try using several pillows to get a comfortable position)
How much should I ice my knee?
Use the polar care provided to you. Keep your operated leg elevated with some pillows under your ankle. lce the knee as much as possible at 30 minute intervals It's important to remember to always ice your knee after exercise.
How many incisions will there be?
There will be two (rarely 3) ¼ inch arthroscopic puncture wounds around the knee.
How long is the procedure?
Approximately 20 to 30 minutes. You will be spending approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours in the Recovery Room after surgery.
Is there any chance that I will wake up during the surgery?
No. The anesthesiologist is carefully monitoring you at all times.
How much activity can I do after surgery?
No impact activities, especially running, are acceptable. Keep your leg elevated as much as possible when seated to help reduce the swelling. Begin range of motion exercises immediately. This includes attempting to straighten and bend the knee as much as possible. Continue the exercises 5-6 times daily until full range of motion is restored. Use a stationary bicycle with the seat elevated and the tension minimal the day following the surgery for about 30 minutes. Increase the tension by about 5-10 pounds every day. If you have access to a pool, swim for about 30 minutes a day 24 hours after the surgery.
How much time off from work should I take?
If you have a desk job (minimal walking, standing or lifting), you may return to work as early as the next day, pain permitting. However, you can expect to be completely back at work within a week remembering to keep your leg elevated when seated. If your job involves more physical labor your return to work date will be determined during your follow-up appointments.
When will I be able to drive?
You will be allowed to drive when you have discontinued: (1) pain medication, and (2) good control of the knee that was operated. This usually takes about two to three days, although patients having left knee surgery may be able to drive an automatic sooner.