What Does Recovery from Meniscectomy Involve?

After returning from meniscectomy and the lingering effects of anesthetics wear off, patients will experience pain and swelling in the operated knee. Physicians will prescribe strong pain medication for the first 48 hours to alleviate discomfort, followed by safer over-the-counter options. Keeping the knee elevated and regularly applying ice are recommended to reduce swelling

Walking with crutches may be required for the first week after surgery, although some weight bearing on the knee may be allowed by physicians. As the symptoms subside and the knee recovers, patients can return to sedentary office or school work a few days after their operation and resume driving in about a week, depending on the knee that was operated on.  

To improve recovery time, physicians recommend a course of rehabilitation to rebuild muscle strength and improve the knee's mobility:

  • 1 – 10 days: Restore range of motion, reduce swelling, and increase quadriceps strength.
  • 10 days – 4 weeks: Regain full range of motion without pain, restore muscle strength, increase endurance, and progressive return to regular activities. 
  • 4 – 6 weeks: Maintain full range of motion, maximize muscle strength and endurance, and complete return to prior activities (including sports).

The rehabilitation process following meniscectomy may seem aggressive because gradual weight-bearing and stress on the knee are required to improve the joint's functionality. Physicians indicate progress to more intensive exercises according to patient tolerance.

It should be noted that arthritic conditions in the knee (more common in individuals over 40) may prevent seeing the full benefits of arthroscopic meniscectomy for up to 6 months. Although increasingly rare, complications from meniscectomy can arise, and patients should seek medical attention if they experience:

  • Fever higher than 101°F
  • Pain that doesn't improve with painkillers or ice
  • Redness around the wounds
  • Wound discharge 
  • Breathing issues
  • Calf pain when moving
  • Ankle, foot, or leg swelling