What happens after your knee arthroscopy?

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What you can expect from physiotherapy after a knee arthroscopy.

Knee arthroscopy is a common procedure for certain types of knee pain. The procedure can vary depending on the presentation; anything from a simple “clean out” (smoothing frayed surfaces in the knee) to larger meniscectomies (where components of the meniscus are removed).

These operations are generally best suited to people with larger bucket handle tears of the meniscus that have not fully resolved with rehab and are causing locking sensations of the knee.

It’s important to note that post-operative instructions can vary significantly between surgeons and the actual surgery performed (so definitely check with your surgeon and physio for specific advice related to you). But here are some broad expectations for recovery post-op.

What to expect after the surgery

For the first few weeks:

  • Swelling management (see our other post on PEACE and LOVE – the swelling post surgery can limit your range of motion and strength.)
  • Restoration of motion
  • Pain management
  • Gradual return to activities

Keep your knee quiet!

There is a term known as the “quiet knee” which can help to guide the recovery of your knee and prompt gradual return to activities. These include:

  • Achieving full range of motion of your knee (straightening and bending of your knee)
  • Minimising swelling of the knee
  • Reducing quad lag (which is where your resting knee is stuck in a bent position)

During your physiotherapy session, we will discuss your goals or activities that you would like to return to post arthroscopy. We will work on the range of motion of your knee i.e. helping you with the straightening and bending of your knee as it is quite common to be stiff post arthroscopy. We also screen the joints above and below to ensure there are no compensations in other areas after surgery. From here, we prescribe a tailored home program to address your issues which could include, but are not limited to; strength and range of motion, control and balance exercises.

The rehab process

Depending on what your surgeon found, will determine your recovery. So recovery and gradual return to activity time frames will vary from person to person. Below is a video of some exercises you can try in order to recover from your knee arthroscopy.

 

Phase 1: improving range of motion – straightening and bending of the knee

  • Straight leg raise laying on your back and in an upright position
  • Straightening your knee at end range with a towel under your knee
  • Heel slides
  • Tummy knee bends

Phase 2: loading the knee (improving strength)

  • Mini squats
  • Wall squats
  • Banded knee extension

Phase 3: single leg (control and stability)

  • Pallof press (double leg then progress to single leg and hip hinge)

Please keep in mind that this is general advice for post knee arthroscopy and it is important to consult with your physiotherapist for more guidance on your recovery.

 

Chantel Pal

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