Recovering from an Arthroscopy

You’ve been told you need to have arthroscopic surgery. In terms of surgery, this is good news. Arthroscopic surgery is less invasive than traditional open surgery. But when can you get back on the court or playing field?

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Coastal Empire Orthopedics perform arthroscopic surgery routinely, using the latest surgical techniques. This type of procedure may be used on any joint, but the most common areas of the body on which doctors perform arthroscopy surgery include the knees, hands, wrists, elbow, and shoulders. 

Anesthesia during arthroscopic surgery 

You’ll have your procedure at an outpatient facility. The type of anesthesia depends on which joint is the target, how much work needs to be done, and how healthy you are. You may need general anesthesia, an epidural, or an anesthetic block where only the affected area is numbed. If the problem is minor, you may only need a local anesthetic. You’ll be under a light sedation as well if you’re not having general anesthesia. 

Immediately after the surgery 

If you receive general anesthesia, you’ll be sleepy and in recovery in the facility for a bit longer than if another type of anesthesia is used. You may feel cold because your body temperature drops with this type of anesthesia. You may also feel dizzy and a bit confused, and you might need ginger ale if you feel a bit nauseous. 

If you’ve had a spinal anesthetic or regional block, the affected area may feel numb, which should disappear before you leave the facility. 

You’re given pain medication if you’re in pain, and your doctor gives you a prescription pain reliever for your temporary use in the days following the surgery. 

At home after arthroscopic surgery

You’ll have a surgical bandage at the site of the procedure. You’ll need to keep it dry for a few days. Your doctor gives you complete instructions on taking care of the surgical site. 

It’s critical to elevate the joint for several days and use ice packs on the area to reduce pain and swelling. Resting the joint is a crucial part of a successful recovery. 

At some point post-surgery, you’ll start physical therapy to help you regain your range of motion in the damaged joint. When you start the exercise program depends on the joint involved and how severe the damage was that your doctor has repaired. Sometimes you’ll start exercises within a day of the procedure, while in others, it will be days or even a few weeks in cases of severe rotator cuff injury, for example. 

Movement helps prevent scar tissue from forming in the area surrounding the joint. The exercises also improve muscle strength around the joint. You can use the pain reliever to help quell any discomfort during your exercise program. 

When can I resume my sports and normal activities?

The answer is that it depends on how extensive the surgery was. If you had knee arthroscopy for meniscus problems, you should be able to return to work within a week and possibly return to your normal activities within four to eight weeks. 

If you had shoulder arthroscopy for a rotator cuff issue, your recovery could take anywhere from one to six months, depending on the extent of the surgery. You’ll wear a sling on the affected arm for at least a week. If the damage was severe, you’d wear it longer.

If you had ankle arthroscopy, the usual recovery time is between six to 12 weeks, but it could take several months for total recovery

Call or book online with Coastal Empire Orthopedics today for all of your orthopedic needs. 

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