What to Expect After Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

elderly man holding knee

Arthroscopic knee surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves taking a scope — a small, lighted tube with a camera on it — and inserting it into a small incision on the knee. The surgeon then takes their instruments and performs the surgery through another small incision.

Although the surgery itself can seem daunting, what’s more nerve-wracking for many people is the recovery period. Here’s what to expect after arthroscopic knee surgery so you can be prepared for whatever may happen.

How Long Is Knee Arthroscopy Recovery?

Arthroscopic knee surgery is a relatively fast procedure, usually lasting about an hour. You’ll likely be able to go home on the same day as your surgery and regain some movement within the first few days. Full recovery time for arthroscopic knee surgery can take around six weeks. Recovery might be longer if the surgery involved repairing damaged tissue.

How Should You Care for Yourself During Recovery?

When you leave your surgery, you’ll need someone else to drive you home and help you get settled in. However, because it doesn’t take long to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery, you will likely be able to handle most things on your own within a few days. Follow these tips to speed along the healing process:

  • Rest when you need to: It’s normal to feel more tired than usual the first few days after surgery, especially if you were under general anesthesia. 
  • Take medicine as directed: Hold off on restarting medications until your doctor approves them, and make sure to complete any antibiotic regimens, even if you feel better sooner.
  • Follow your normal diet: The only significant change in your diet will be to ensure you get enough fluids to aid in healing.
  • Keep incisions clean and dry: Check your incisions for signs of infection and contact your doctor if you notice anything wrong.
  • Ice your knee: Ice your knee for 10-20 minutes at a time, every one to two hours. If you’re feeling excessive pain, elevate your knee above your heart to help.
  • Follow exercise or movement recommendations: Your doctor will recommend exercises that will help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

Although severe complications with arthroscopic knee surgery are rare, contact a professional immediately if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tingling, numbness or changes in color in foot
  • Redness or swelling in your leg or groin
  • Pain in your calf, the back of your knee, thigh or groin
  • Your incision reopens
  • Inability to keep food or liquids down
  • Signs of infection such as fever, increased pain and pus in the wound

Contact OrthoBethesda for Your Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

If you need arthroscopic knee surgery, contact OrthoBethesda today. Our highly skilled orthopedic doctors are ready to help you heal now. Visit our website to fill out a contact form or schedule an appointment.