Post Op / Discharge Instructions
Instructions for Patients Following Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Unless otherwise instructed, you may immediately bear full weight on your operated extremity. The local anesthetic in your knee will usually last for 8- 12 hours, so be careful not to overuse the knee during this period. You can walk normally, but do not do any strenuous activities such as running, jogging or jumping until I clear you for this. You may experience some discomfort as you start to walk. Use the pain medication provided, starting about 6 to 8 hours after surgery. Also, unless otherwise instructed, it is not necessary for you to use crutches. However, if you feel more secure with crutches, feel free to use them for a day or two.
R.I.C.E. therapy…that is, Rest, Ice Compression and Elevation, is the best therapy for your post-surgical pain management. Use R.I.C.E. therapy for the first 24 to 48 hours after your surgery.
Ice packs are also helpful in decreasing the swelling and discomfort. It is recommended that you maintain ice packs on your knee at least 50% of the time during the first 24 hours. Ice packs or gel pack can be used for 15-20 minutes per session to reduce swelling and inflammation.
It is important for you to understand that the large thigh muscle will shrink in size and strength quite rapidly, unless you exercise it. Exercises that are good for you include:
- Exercise the calf by rotating foot in a circle.
- Straighten your knee as straight as possible and clench thigh muscle tightly, hold the muscle clenched for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10-20 times every hour.
- You should try to do at least 100 thigh tightening per day to keep the tone and strength in the muscle.
- As soon as you have done the above exercises, you may begin to do straight leg raises.
- Start bending your knee the day after surgery and increase the bending until full motion has returned.
A prescription for pain medication will be given to you as you at your preoperative evaluation or leave the hospital recovery room. Please use this medication as needed. Do not take this pain medication on an empty stomach. Do not take anything containing aspirin for a week after surgery (Aspirin thins the blood and may cause an increase in bleeding tendency).
The rolled on cotton wrapping around your knee, which lies beneath the elastic bandage, may be removed the day after surgery. You should then re-wrap the knee with only the elastic bandage and a gauze pad for about 3-4 days, or until swelling is gone. Do not wrap the elastic bandage too tightly or it will act like a tourniquet and cause ankle swelling. If you have an EBI Cold Therapy System, the sterile pad will be under the cotton wrapping and over the elastic bandages.
The small skin incisions, called portals, are held together with skin tapes called "steri-strips". These strips should not be removed, but should remain in place until your first postoperative visit. Unless otherwise instructed, you may remove the outer dressings - except the steri-strips - to take a shower the first day after surgery. Simply pat the knee dry with a plain towel and reapply clean gauze and wrap with the elastic wrapping.
Post Operative Appointment
If you were not given a follow up appointment prior to surgery, please call the office at (408) 379-8141 to make an appointment 7 days following surgery.
Please Call (408) 379-8141 at any time, days or nights and weekends:
- If you have unusual or uncontrolled pain not relieved by ice, rest, elevation and pain medication.
- If the wound(s) or the arthroscopy site is very red, hot or swollen and that is not relieved by application of ice and elevation.
- If there is any drainage that is cloudy.
- If the wound(s) have a foul odor or look infected.
- If your oral temperature is 101º degrees or above.
- If your oral temperature is 100º degrees or above for more than 24 hours.
Post-surgical problems following arthroscopic surgery are very rare. However, if you have a problem, please do not hesitate to call. If your call is placed after-hours or over a weekend, please call the office telephone number and the answering service will contact the doctor.