What Does Recovery From Knee Arthroscopy Involve?

Following arthroscopic knee surgery, recovery will highly depend on the specific type of repair that was performed. After the procedure, patients usually return home on the same day, although it will be required to have a designated driver on the way back.   

Pain and swelling are expected symptoms for the first days after surgery. During this initial recovery period, patients are instructed to follow a few recommendations:

  • Minimal movement – In the first few days, the knee shouldn't bear any weight, and mobility aids like a walker or crutches may be required. 
  • Keeping the knee high – Maintaining the joint above heart level when resting helps reduce swelling and alleviate pain. 
  • Ice – Similarly, regularly applying ice to the operated knee helps reduce swelling and reduces pain.
  • Medication – Physicians will prescribe NSAIDs and anti-inflammatory medication to manage discomfort. Anti-coagulants may also be recommended to prevent blood clots from forming. 
  • Wound care – Patients should keep their incisions clean and ask their physician when the bandages should be removed or when to bathe unconcerned.

A follow-up examination with the operating physician will usually take place a week after the procedure. If the recovery looks promising, he may recommend physical therapy to gradually regain muscle strength and improve the knee's range of motion

Full recovery time differs for each individual based on the extent and type of repairs performed. Injuries that don't require complex interventions could allow patients to return to sedentary office jobs in a few days and return to non-strenuous activities in 6 to 8 weeks

In contrast, more complicated operations like ligament reconstruction, restoring cartilage, and meniscus repair can require several months of recovery. Besides physical therapy, some individuals may have to make lifestyle changes to accommodate their recovery, such as avoiding activities involving jumping or running. 

With 700,000 arthroscopic knee surgeries performed yearly in the US, the outlook following this procedure is generally good with proper care and rehab, especially for young individuals.