If you've injured your knee and the orthopedic doctor recommended arthroscopic surgery, count yourself as lucky. It can take months to recover from major knee surgery. Arthroscopic procedures reduce the recovery time and the risk of infection. Once you have a date set for the knee surgery, here is how to prepare yourself for the procedure and a successful recovery.

Before The Surgery

The procedure will be done in the doctor's office or an outpatient clinic so there is no need for a hospital stay. Arrange with a friend or family member to take you to your appointment and take you home. Have someone stay with you when you get home from the procedure, too, because you'll want to rest the remainder of the day.

The Night Before The Surgery

Your doctor will instruct you to not eat or drink after midnight. This will reduce the chance of becoming nauseated during the surgery. Get plenty of sleep as well to help you relax for the procedure. If you're having a lot of anxiety about the procedure, contact your doctor to discuss it. They may prescribe you something to take the night before or morning of the surgery to help you relax.

Surgery Day

Once checked into the clinic, you'll meet with the anesthesiologist. Depending on the technique your doctor uses, you may be given one or more of the following anesthetics:

  • Local - Numbs your knee so you won't feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Regional - Injected into your back and numbs you from the waist down.
  • General - Causes you to sleep through the procedure.

If local or regional anesthesia is used, you can watch the procedure on a monitor as it's being performed. The more complicated the anesthesia is, the longer it will take you to recovery fully from it.

Once the anesthetic is administered and the anesthesiologist is satisfied that it is in full effect, the orthopedic surgeon can start the procedure.

The Knee Surgery

One advantage of arthroscopic surgery over traditional knee surgery is that the doctor need only make a couple of small incisions over the knee. The arthroscope is inserted into one of these incisions, allowing the doctor to see the tissues inside of the knee on a monitor. The surgeon guides instruments into the knee to work on the damaged bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

At the end of the procedure, the incisions are sutured closed and small bandages placed over them to protect them from infection. You'll be taken to a quiet place to rest while the anesthetic wears off. Once your doctor is sure that you will be OK on your own, your friend can take you home.

Recovering At Home

The success of the surgery on your knee is only partially dependent on your doctor's surgical skill. The rest is dependent on your efforts during the recovery at home.

You'll use crutches for a few days to keep weight off of the knee. You'll be given exercises to do while at home and you'll likely meet with a physical therapist for several sessions. These activities keep the knee flexible and strengthens the muscles. If you don't adhere to your exercise schedule, you risk your knee becoming stiff and you'll have difficulty walking.

Your doctor will tell you how to monitor your knee for any signs of infection which can include:

  • drainage from the incisions
  • swelling and tenderness in the knee
  • pain in the lower leg muscles

Once your doctor OKs you to put weight on the knee, you'll do more physical therapy. You will be given exercises to build up your knee to hold your weight. At this point, you may feel good about your surgery and recovery, but it's not the time to overdo it. Should you push yourself beyond what your knee can withstand, you could damage your knee and have a major setback.

For more information, contact a specialist like Northwoods Family Orthopaedics SC.