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Knee Arthroscopy Post-Op Instructions

If you have had or are planning to have knee arthroscopy, these are the standard instructions you will need to follow. Please take a moment to review this information.

Arthroscopic Findings

Your arthroscopy findings may include one or more of the following:

  • Cartilage tear(s)
  • Arthritis (mild, moderate, severe)
  • Ligament tear
  • Chondral defect (joint surface damage)
  • Other

These findings will be reviewed at length at the time of your first post-operative visit.

Day of Surgery

  1. Use crutches/walker for walking. Place as much weight on the operated leg as comfort allows.
  2. Rest and take it easy the remainder of the day. You may be sleepy or nauseous depending on the type of anesthesia you received. Remain at home with the operated knee and leg elevated (higher that head or heart) most of the time. Try to limit stair climbing.
  3. Gradually resume normal diet as tolerated.
  4. Take pain medication as prescribed if symptoms warrant.
  5. Keep leg wrap on and dry until tomorrow, when it can be removed.
  6. Start leg exercises (see below illustration/photos) a. Leg lifts – Do 20 straight leg lifts- every 4 hours until bedtime – hold each lift for 5-7 seconds. b. Knee Bends – After your 20 leg lifts, try to gently bend your knee as much as comfort allows and hold for 5 seconds then fully straighten the knee. Repeat 10 times. Try to bend the knee a little further each time, and certainly further each day.
  7. Ice can be applied over wraps for 20 minutes every few hours. This will become more effective after removal of your wraps tomorrow, on the first post-op day.
  8. Call my office (610-789-0150) to make a follow up appointment.

Day After Surgery

  1. Remove all wraps and ice knee for 30 minutes, 4 times a day. You may re-apply 1 ace wrap (not too tight) to knee to help control swelling.
  2. Gradually increase your activities.
  3. Start taking 2 buffered aspirin or 2 Advil three times a day with food and/or a full glass of water (If you don’t have a history of stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, or intolerance to aspirin or Advil). This will help reduce knee inflammation/swelling and help prevent blood clots/phlebitis. If you are on other arthritis type medications (i.e. NSAID’S) you may resume them instead of the aspirin or Advil.
  4. If discomfort increases, it is usually the result of overactivity. When present, you should sit or lie down, elevate your leg, and rest. Also, until your office visit, try to elevate your leg whenever you are sitting down. This helps control/prevent swelling.
  5. Continue your exercises as outlined.

Two days after surgery until follow-up visit in 7-10 days

  1. Remove ace wrap for exercises and to ice your knee (after exercises). If swelling resolves, you may discontinue the ace wrap.
  2. You may shower if wounds are clean and dry. (No tub bath or pool yet)
  3. Continue exercises and apply ice to knee (15-20 minutes) after each session.
  4. Once you are comfortable bending and straightening your knee and walking on your leg, you may drive.
  5. After several days, if there is no limp, you may discontinue crutches. If there is even a slight limp remaining, continue to use at least one crutch.

General Advice

  1. Call my office (610-789-0150) the day after surgery to “check-in” and to make a follow up appointment for approximately one week. (If surgery was on Friday, please call Monday)
  2. Call my office if you have any questions or if any of the following problems should arise: – fever, chills, or increased pain  – significant swelling or pain involving the knee and or leg      – numbness, coldness or tingling in the foot – drainage or discharge from the incisions

Excercise Program

Your exercise program is one of the most important factors in your knee’s recovery. It is a progressive program that starts almost immediately after your surgery. It initially involves thigh strengthening exercises (leg lifts) and range of motion exercises (knee bending). Your program will be increased after your first post-op visit. Walking, standing, stair climbing, etc… are not good for the knee for the first week after surgery so don’t walk or stand anymore than is necessary until the discomfort and swelling from the procedure are gone. Your overall recovery time will depend on your particular problem. Be patient. We will get you back to as much as possible, as soon as your knee allows.

Leg Lifts

I call this a “lock and lift” (see below) First tighten (gently lock) muscle on front of thigh, then lift leg 6-8 inches from floor or table keeping knee locked. Hold 5-7 seconds. Do 12- 15 reps every few hours while awake. If it gets too easy, add a 1 or 2 pound ankle weight. It is important to tighten/lock the quad (front thigh) muscle and lift with that, and not use the front of the hip muscle to do the leg lift.

Knee ROM (Range Of Motion) or Knee Bends

Gently bend (flex) the knee a little more each day. This will get easier as the swelling subsides. Work on getting a little more flexion after doing the leg lift exercises (see #6 above in “Day of Surgery” section).


Call for an appointment and to bring arthroscopic photos (if taken) to the office

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