What To Expect From Your Upcoming Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

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You tore the cartilage in your knee and the orthopedic doctor recommended arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. This procedure will help you get back on your knee sooner than traditional surgery, but you'll still have a lot of work to do to regain full use of your knee. Here is what you can expect from this surgical procedure and the subsequent recovery afterwards.

No Hospital Stay Required

A major advantage of arthroscopic surgery is that it is done in an outpatient clinic or your doctor's office. Once completed, you'll be free to go home to begin your recovery.

After you check in for your appointment, you'll speak with a doctor about the anesthetic options. You may be given a local anesthetic in your knee so you feel nothing during the procedure. Or they may give you a regional anesthetic, which deadens the feeling from the waist down. With either option, you'll have the choice of staying awake and watching the procedure on monitors in the room or being sedated so you're unaware of what is going on.

Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the surgeon will make two small incisions over your knee joint. Into one, they will guide a small tube to which is attached a camera. The doctor uses this to see inside of your knee joint. Into the second incision, another tube is inserted that contains surgical instruments. Both tubes are guided to that area of your knee that was damaged.

The surgeon will look through a microscope or monitors in the room to watch as they repair the torn cartilage. All of the work is done this way, through the two incisions, which is another benefit of this procedure over traditional knee surgery which exposes the entire knee to the air.

When the repair has been completed, the surgeon removes the tubes and covers the incisions with small bandages. You'll be taken to a recovery area where you'll rest until the anesthetic has worn off. You'll then be able to go home to begin your recovery.

Physical Therapy is the Next Step

Repairing the torn cartilage is the first step in recovering from your accident. You'll now begin several weeks of physical therapy to gain back the full function of your knee.

The first phase of physical therapy is to slowly stretch out the muscles in your knee to regain the natural range of motion. The therapist will move your knee in all directions, measuring the amount of flexibility you have at each session. Once you have nearly reached normal knee movement, you'll begin strengthening the muscles in your knee.

The physical therapist will now have you work with resistance machines and do other exercises to build up the muscles in your knee. This not only helps you walk, but strong muscles protect the knee from damage.

The entire physical therapy program will take several weeks, depending on the extent of the knee surgery. You'll set a pace of recovery with the therapist to maintain slow, incremental progress. It's important to keep at that pace so you don't overwork your knee. If you push yourself too hard or fast, you may re-injure the knee and set back your recovery time. To learn more, speak with someone like Framingham Orthopedic Associates.