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Post Knee Arthroscopy


Knee arthroscopic surgery is a keyhole surgery used to repair ligaments, cartilage or bone of the knee joint. It is common to have pain, swelling and weakness of knee muscles after arthroscopy. To facilitate recovery, you need to ice your knee, maintain its movement and strengthen your muscles.


What is an Arthroscopy?

  • Is a minimally invasive method of surgery, also known as keyhole surgery
  • It is performed via small incisions or cuts in the skin, using narrow telescopes or arthroscopes that are attached to a video camera
  • It may be done to examine the internal structure of a joint for diagnosis and/or treatment

What happens to me after arthroscopy?

You may experience the following:

  • Pain with knee movement, walking etc
  • Stiffness or loss of range of movement of the joint
  • Effusion or swelling in the joint

  • Weakness and/or inhibition of the quadriceps muscles
  • Atrophy or wasting of the quadriceps muscles after prolonged disuse

atropied muscle.jpg
Atropied muscle

  • Difficulty putting weight on the leg
  • Difficulty walking

What can I do to help myself?

  • Reduce swelling
    • Ice for 15-20 mins, every 2-3 hours
    • Apply light compression but do not tourniquet!
    • Keep your leg elevated
    • Relative rest, i.e. walk less than usual, but do not spend all day in bed/chair
  • Reduce pain
    • Painkillers
    • Ice to numb the pain and to reduce the swelling
    • Physiotherapy modality treatment e.g. Interferential therapy for pain relief

Acute phase (days 1-14) post arthroscopy


  • Increase range of motion
  • Strengthening exercise such as Inner Range Quads and Single Leg Raise
  • Weight bear and mobility
    • Use crutches to get from place to place, rather than limping about
    • Place as much weight on the leg as tolerated, i.e. with minimal pain, unless told otherwise
  • As you are recovering, exercises need to be progressed on to further your rehabilitation. Check with your physiotherapist regarding your rehabilitation programme
  • Check with your physiotherapist regarding your rehabilitation programme and/ or any pain that you experience, especially while doing exercises


  • Apply heat or massage to the area because this may increase your effusion/swelling
  • Start exercise or sports because your muscles are currently not strong enough to cope with the these demands
  • Squat or kneel because this is likely to place excessive stress on the injured tissues and the knee, thereby impeding recovery


1. When can I walk without my crutches?

  • Depending on what has been done during the arthroscope, e.g. debridement or repair or diagnostic, the time frame ranges from 1-4 weeks
  • Factors that determine when you may walk without your crutches are muscle strength, amount of pain and swelling, and the nature of the knee damage

2. When can I return to sports?

  • Depends on the nature of the injury and procedures done
    • Debridement or diagnostic (2-3 months)
    • Meniscectomy (3-4 months)
    • ACL-Reconstruction (6-12 months)
  • Depends on rehabilitation progress
    • Recovery of range of movement
    • Recovery of strength
- Last updated 25 Jul 2011,10:01 am

The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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