Information for the patient: Overview of what happens after your operation
Before being discharged, which usually occurs on the day following surgery or a day later, you will be seen by the ward physiotherapist and the nurses. You will learn how to care for your knee scars, how to get around, what activities you should avoid, and what exercises you should do to aid your recovery. This is an overview. See later for full details.
At a follow-up visit (usually 2 weeks after the operation) your surgeon will inspect your skin incisions, discuss the operative findings and further rehabilitation program.
Home recovery and rehabilitation
The recovery time will depend on the joint problem, extent of surgery, and the rehabilitation goals. Recovery time varies markedly from patient to patient. Elevation and ice can help control swelling and discomfort, and circulation exercises help prevent postoperative complications such as blood clotting in your leg (deep vein thrombosis). Point and flex your foot, and wiggle your toes, every few minutes you are awake for a week or two after arthroscopy.
Crutches will be needed to keep weight off your knee as it heals. The amount of weight you are allowed to take will be given to you in detail but usually you will be on crutches for 6 weeks. Your crutches should move with your bandaged leg.
Helps you regain range of movement in your ankle, knee and hip. Even if you are on crutches and not yet bearing full weight on your leg, you should be able to get up and start walking as soon as possible, to improve circulation and speed the healing process in your leg.
Exercises are very important after knee surgery!
Rebuilding the muscles that support and stabilise your knee (quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles) is one of the best ways to help your knee recover fully. However these need to be undertaken according the rehabilitation plan detailed here to avoid overloading the delicate new surface.
Return to impact sport.
This should be avoided for at least 12 months. It takes a long time for the new surface to mature enough to be resilient against the high shearing and compression forces that are associated with impact sports.
Return to work and driving:
Driving is allowed at 6 weeks and return to work usually depends on the individual. Guidelines are as follows:
Sedentary jobs e.g. desk job – from 3 – 6 weeks allowing for the fact the leg should be elevated for periods. Regular exercises should be undertaken throughout the day.
Non-Sedentary jobs – prolonged standing all day: 8 weeks. Jobs involving running and load carrying: up to 6 months. This should be discussed well in advance with your consultant.