Orthopedic Surgeon in San Diego

Questions And Answers Regarding Arthroscopic Knee Surgery Recovery

Posted on: April 17th, 2014 by Grossmont Orthopaedic Medical Group

Knee Arthroscopy San DiegoConsidering that arthroscopic surgery is a less invasive procedure than an open surgery, it is often a preferred choice among patients. A smaller incision means minimal scarring and shorter recovery period, is is the the biggest advantage of this type of knee surgery.

Arthroscopy involves a small incision so that injuries to the ligaments, tissue or cartilage can be fixed. The procedure is carried out with a small instrument called an arthroscope, a tool that has a light and a camera attached to it so that the surgeon can study the status of the injury in question. This kind of procedure is bloodless since the arthroscope is a very precise tool.

In case you have a dislocated knee, an osteoarthritis or ligament grafting, you may be a candidate for arthroscopic knee surgery. This type of surgery reduces anesthesia complications and chances of infection. Also, your recovery period will be shorter and therefore the rate of success will be higher. Because of all these benefits, arthroscopic knee surgery is a choice of many patients. Over 80% of patients choose this procedure when it comes to knee surgeries.

Recovery Period – Precautions You Need To Take

The surgery itself will be one hour and you will be discharged as soon as you feel comfortable and can use crutches. Your recovery period varies from patient to patient, the following factors will determine your recovery time:

  • Age
  • Damage to the knee
  • Type of treatment
  • Fitness level

Although arthroscopic knee surgery is a less invasive procedure when compared to an open surgery, you still have to take some precautions to avoid complications and recover properly.

Swelling Around The Knee

Don’t be alarmed if you notice swelling around your knee as this is a common thing. In case you feel pain, you can massage the surrounding area with some ice and take any medication your orthopedic surgeon may have prescribed for you. Another good thing to do is to keep your leg in an elevated position. While resting, apply ice every two or three hours in periods of 15 to 20 minutes. You should treat the inflamed area with ice each and every day after the surgery, avoid getting the area of the operation wet. Your swelling should subside after 2 or 3 days and it will disappear completely after 10 or 15 days.


Your orthopedic surgeon or a nurse will dress your knee properly and will show you how to dress your knee by yourself. The most important thing you will learn here is that you need to keep the operated part dry – avoid water contact until the incision on your knee heals completely.

Rest Your Knee Properly

You should not stress your knee, except when you are doing prescribed exercises. You need to keep your leg in an elevated position whenever you can as this is the position that will put the least pressure on your knee. Standing, driving, walking and using the stairs should be avoided at all times. Your recovery period depends on the amount of rest you take. Make sure you are not stressing your knee, except when taking prescribed exercises.

About The Exercises

To regain full motion and strength of the knee, you will have to perform exercises given by the physiotherapist. Your exercising routine will change, depending on your rate of recovery. Besides doing these recommended exercises, you should not be doing any other activities.

Circumstances That Call For Immediate Medical Attention

While most patients have no complications after the arthroscopic knee surgery, complications can occur. You may need to seek medical attention if you experience one of the following:

  • The pain in and around the knee is increasing
  • Fever and chills
  • Bleeding or soreness around the incision
  • Prolonged pain and swelling in the calf muscles

It’s crucial that you attend every follow-up appointment so that the orthopedic doctor in San Diego can monitor your recovery progress and make any necessary changes in your treatment.

We compiled a list of questions that our patients usually ask our San Diego orthopedic surgeons. Please read these FAQ to better familiarize yourself with the details regarding the recovery period.

Do I need crutches?
You may have to use crutches for the first several days after the surgery. In case the doctor doesn’t think you need them, you will learn how to maintain your balance when walking.

When can I return to my usual lifestyle?

Depending on your recovery and your overall condition, you may need to wait from a week to 8 weeks to return to your normal activities. It all depends on your current condition and the procedure you had (soreness, joint pain, ligament tear, etc.). Do not force yourself and don’t do any physical activities that may endanger your recovery.

Can I drive my car?

You will need to take a break from driving. You may be unable to drive for 3 or 4 days, or for 10 or 15 days. It all depends on your recovery and how fast you regain strength and stability in your knee. Do not attempt to drive without consulting with your orthopedic doctor. Even then, you should first check how your knee reacts while you are driving. Find an empty parking or similar empty area to test your knee. In case you have difficulties applying the throttle or brakes, wait for a day or two until you can press both pedals without any difficulties.

Can I take a shower when I get home?

It is highly recommended that you avoid showering for the first two days after the procedure. And even then, you need to make sure you do not get any water to your knee. The incision are has to heal completely first. Until then, do not get your knee and the surrounding area wet.
Should I use pain medication?

Only if your doctor prescribed them. Follow the timings and the dosage from the prescription to get some relief from the pain. However, if the medication doesn’t help you relieve the pain, contact the best orthopedic surgeon in San Diego before taking additional medication.