What To Expect From Arthroscopic Surgery On Your Knee

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You slipped and fell, tearing one of the ligaments in your knee joint. It took but a second for the injury to happen, but now you're looking at weeks of recovery to gain the use of your knee back. Luckily, the orthopedic surgeons have recommended arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn ligament. This is a less invasive procedure than traditional knee surgery. Here is what you can expect from this procedure and the subsequent recovery of your knee function.

A Complex Repair Made Easier On You

Depending on the extent of your knee damage, your orthopedic surgeon may be able to do the arthroscopic procedure in their office as an outpatient. No hospital stay is involved.

Once you check in at the office or clinic, you'll speak with an anesthesiologist. You may choose to have a local anesthetic, which deadens just the knee, so you feel no pain during the surgery. You could also choose a regional anesthetic which deadens your leg from the waist down. In both cases, you can choose to stay awake during the procedure and watch it on one of the monitors in the room or be sedated so you'll be unaware that anything is going on.

When the anesthesia has taken effect and your knee has been prepared by the surgical team for the operation, two small incisions are made over the knee joint. Into one of the incisions, the surgeon threads a small tube which contains a camera on the end. This is guided into the knee joint so the doctor can watch the procedure on a monitor or through a set of microscope lenses. A second tube containing surgical instruments is inserted into the other incision.

With this setup, your doctor repairs the torn ligament without damaging the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your knee. Traditional surgery requires a long incision over the knee joint to expose all of those structures to the air. Some of the soft tissue are severed to gain access into the knee joint leaving more structures to heal after the surgery. Arthroscopic surgery minimizes exposure of and injury to the tissues in the knee.

Once the ligament repair has been completed, the tubes will be removed and the two small incisions sutured closed. Small bandages are placed over the incisions and you'll be taken to a recovery area where you will wait until the anesthetic wears off. When your surgeon is satisfied that you are not having any ill effects from the procedure, you'll be able to go home.

Your Recovery At Home

Gaining back the full use of your knee is a multi-step process. You'll spend the first few days at home allowing the tissues in the knee to heal. Ligaments have a limited blood supply running through them which makes healing take longer than with muscles and tendons. You'll have a follow-up visit with your doctor a few days after the surgery, at which time they will prescribe physical therapy.

For the first few weeks, you'll work with the physical therapist to regain the range of motion in your knee. They will help you stretch out the muscles that have contracted over the past few weeks of disuse. The therapist will measure your range of motion at each session to track your progress. Once you have reached the proper level of knee movement, you'll begin strength training.

Your knee muscles not only help you walk, but they support your knee and protect it from damage. The stronger the muscles, the more protected your knee is from subsequent injury from a fall or blow to the knee. You'll work with the physical therapist on various resistance machines. You'll also increase your activity by walking and bicycle riding. It will take several weeks of exercising but you'll gain back the full use of your knee so you can enjoy all of your favorite activities again. For more information, consider contacting a professional like those at Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC.