A Knee In Need--Arthroscopic Surgery Can Help

March 2014

Knee surgery today doesn’t always mean overnight stays at the hospital, months of recovery, and a scar that may make you rethink wearing shorts. Rather, today’s patients return home within hours after surgery and, depending on the procedure, may begin walking again within a week. And better yet, once the incisions heal, the scars could be old battle wounds from that pointed coffee table of yours. 

But what is arthroscopic surgery? Basically, it’s a minimally invasive surgery that uses a tiny camera hooked up to a monitor to explore the inside of your knee joint. Typically, the surgery requires two or three incisions about 1/4 of an inch long. Once the camera is in place, a saline mixture is injected to expand the knee and improve visibility. (We all want our doctors to see in high-def, right?) The doctor then uses other surgical instruments to remove or repair the injured part of your knee.

There are several types of knee problems that may benefit from arthroscopic surgery: 

-Meniscal tears (repairing or removing)

-Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament)

-Swollen synovium

-Loose bone or cartilage fragments

Now, let’s talk recovery. Though you will be up and about fairly quickly, it’s still important to listen to your doctor’s instructions—yes, better than you did your mother’s. Here are few tips to get you walking again:

-Kick your feet up for the first few days—literally. Apply ice to reduce the swelling.

-See your surgeon again a few days after your surgery. He or she will check your knee and discuss your recovery plan.

-Watch for fever, redness and extensive swelling (though some swelling is normal). Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

-Don’t skimp on physical therapy—it only works if you do it!

Overall, arthroscopic surgery rarely has complications, and whether for better or worse, most people return to work or school within three to four days. So enjoy the sick days while they last!