What to Expect Before, During, and After Knee Arthroscopy

What to Expect Before, During, and After Knee Arthroscopy

Your knee pain has escalated. Physical therapy, injections, and other remedies aren’t helping enough. Your doctor has recommended knee arthroscopy to get to the root of your discomfort and treat it. If you’ve been scheduled for arthroscopy, you likely have critical questions about what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. 

Dr. Jonathan Shults, board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Coastal Empire Orthopedics, helps many orthopedic patients regain a better quality of life through knee arthroscopy and subsequent recovery. 

Knee arthroscopy is performed to diagnose and treat soft tissue damage. You might have torn or damaged cartilage, a meniscus tear, or an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear or partial tear. 

Preparation for knee arthroscopy 

After your procedure, You’ll be off your feet for a while, so prepare your home in advance. Remove clutter you could trip over, and set up a comfortable station where you can rest and have what you need. 

We provide an instruction sheet on how to prepare for your arthroscopy. Check off items as you complete them. We give you paperwork to get pre-op tests done. If you take certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and herbal remedies, you must stop taking them at least one full week before surgery. If you’re on a blood thinner, you must coordinate with your prescribing physician and our office. 

We ask you to stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery. Smoking slows healing. 

We provide detailed instructions for the day and night before surgery. You shouldn’t eat or drink past midnight, but you can take key-approved medications with a sip of water. You’ll wash with a special antimicrobial cleanser the night before and the morning of surgery. This helps prevent post-op infection. Come to the surgical site in comfortable clothes; leave all jewelry home. 

The arthroscopy procedure 

You receive anesthesia for knee arthroscopy so that you won’t be in pain. The type of anesthesia depends on your overall health and how much work is anticipated. 

Arthroscopy uses a camera to help Dr. Shults view your knee from every angle and see what’s going on inside your knee joint. A tiny camera is inserted in one of a few tiny incisions in your knee joint. The images are displayed on a screen as Dr. Shults repairs your soft tissue. 

Because the incisions are so small, arthroscopy minimizes damage to the tissue around the problem area. Before the arthroscopic technique, surgeons sometimes had to dislocate the kneecap to see inside the joint. 

Recovery after knee arthroscopy 

You’ll need crutches after your knee arthroscopy; you won’t be able to bear weight on your foot or leg. Dr. Shults lets you know approximately how long it will be before you can bear some weight and then all your weight on your foot and leg. 

Recovery depends on the severity of the damage to the soft tissue in and around your knee joint. If the damage is minor, such as trimming irritated cartilage or a minor meniscus tear, your full recovery time is about six to eight weeks, but you can go back to work in a few days and usually drive after a week or two

If you need to have ACL reconstruction, your recovery time is longer. Recovery can be six months to a year for a torn ACL. 

Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment through our online portal today if you have unexplained knee pain that hinders your mobility. We can get you moving again. 



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