What are the Best Tips for Recovery After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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The proper way to recover after arthroscopic knee surgery depends on how extensive the surgery is and what procedures were performed. Following the doctor's instructions is a must. Keeping bandages sterile and the wound site free from dirt and moisture is an essential part of recovery. Applications of ice to reduce swelling and use of pain medications may help. Post-operative exercises per doctor's orders should be performed, and allowing for an appropriate time to return to work is also beneficial to recovery.

In most cases, after arthroscopic knee surgery, the patient will return home the same day, barring complications. Typically, after a few days, the surgical dressing will be removed, which should generally be done when there is no bleeding or oozing from the site. Avoiding excessive moisture around the surgical site will aid in recovery. This also means not allowing the area to become saturated with water while showering.


It is crucial to be aware of any signs of potential infection after arthroscopic knee surgery. After several days, if the swelling has worsened, redness is present, or streaks appear from the incision area, this could indicate a possible infection. Fever after several days should be reported to the doctor. Unusual pain that has not subsided after a few days, or has become increasingly worse should also be reported to the physician. It is not common for pain to increase after two or three days and for redness to appear several days later, therefore the patient should notify his physician of these symptoms.

If the doctor has prescribed anti-inflammatory medications and the patient can tolerate these well, they should be taken for a short while to help reduce the pain from the inflamed joint. Alternately, if prescription medication upsets the stomach, over-the-counter, non-steroidal medications may be more suitable. For those with an especially sensitive gastrointestinal system, taking acetaminophen for pain may be recommended, as it is generally more easily tolerated.

Although the patient may be dependent upon crutches for a short while after surgery, movement will help in recovery and is generally encouraged. If the physician has instructed post-operative, in-home exercises, it's crucial to do these regularly as instructed, to improve mobility and joint function after arthroscopic knee surgery. It might be feasible to inquire from one's physician whether physical therapy with a trained specialist may be beneficial to recovery. Some insurance plans may cover expenses.

After arthroscopic knee surgery, returning to work should not be immediate. If the job requires physical labor, it is best not to return to work before 10 days to two weeks. If standing for long periods of time still feels uncomfortable, using good judgment can help decide when the patient is ready. For a job with less activity, such as a desk job, returning to work can be possible in a few days. It is always best to consult with the physician regarding the basics.


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Post 2

Following arthroscopic knee surgery, it is important that a patient only takes the pain medications prescribed or recommended by his or her doctor. Some pain medications may increase the likeliness of bleeding and swelling, so self-medicating post-op pain following this surgery can lead to problems that may increase the recovery time. If in doubt, a patient should always call his or her doctor before taking any medications during the healing process following surgery.

Post 1

I had arthroscopic knee surgery, and I had a lot of discomfort following the procedure. I also felt very tired for the first few weeks after surgery, and needed to rest a lot to get through my days.

Though many people may feel well enough after this type of surgery to return to work after a few days, I needed two weeks to recover. The bottom line is that if you are having knee surgery, be prepared to have to take a little extra time off from work if necessary. Talking to your boss as far in advance of your procedure as possible will help prepare you and your co-workers for your time off as your knee heals.

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