Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Preparation, Procedure, and Recovery | PreferredMD
Orthopedic Surgery

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Preparation, Procedure, and Recovery

Procedure • By Biraj Patel

Arthroscopic knee surgery, often referred to as knee arthroscopy or knee scope surgery, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure designed to diagnose and treat various knee conditions. Unlike traditional open surgery, this technique involves small incisions and a specialized instrument called an arthroscope.

Knee arthroscopy becomes necessary when conservative treatments like physical therapy or medication don't provide relief from knee pain or dysfunction. Common conditions that may require surgery include meniscus tears, ligament injuries, or cartilage damage.

Preparing for arthroscopic knee surgery

Finding the best orthopedic surgeon

The first step in your journey is selecting the best orthopedic surgeon for the job. 

Seek recommendations, read reviews, and ensure your chosen surgeon is experienced in arthroscopic knee surgery. You can start your search on PreferredMD – our physician network comprises hand-selected specialists that have been thoroughly evaluated by their peers and patients. This decision can significantly impact your outcome.

Understanding the procedure

Your surgeon will explain the procedure and address any concerns you may have. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of what to expect. Communication is key.

Preoperative evaluation

Before surgery, your surgeon will likely conduct a thorough evaluation, including a physical examination and possibly imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans. Ensure you attend all preoperative appointments and tests as advised.

Inform your surgeon of any medications or supplements you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements. Some medications may need to be adjusted or temporarily discontinued before surgery, particularly blood-thinning medications.


Typically, you'll be instructed not to eat or drink anything for a specified period before the surgery, usually starting the night before. This fasting is essential to prevent complications during anesthesia.

Home preparation and recovery support

Arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery, as you may still be under the influence of anesthesia. Ensure your home is prepared with necessary items like crutches, a comfortable resting area, and easy access to necessities.

Plan for assistance during the initial days of recovery. You may require help with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and transportation. Having a support system in place can make your recovery smoother.

How arthroscopic knee surgery is performed

During arthroscopic knee surgery, the surgeon makes tiny incisions around your knee. They then insert the arthroscope, which houses a camera and small instruments. This provides a clear view of the inside of your knee joint on a monitor.

The surgeon can diagnose issues like torn ligaments, cartilage damage, or inflammation. If necessary, they can also perform repairs or remove damaged tissue without the need for a large incision.

Knee arthroscopy recovery time and care

One of the primary advantages of arthroscopic knee surgery is its shorter recovery time compared to traditional open surgery. In most cases, patients can expect to return to light activities within a week or two. However, a full recovery may take several weeks to a few months, depending on the severity of the condition and individual factors.

Pain management

Follow your surgeon's recommendations for pain management. This may involve prescribed medications or non-prescription pain relievers. Report any unusual or severe pain to your healthcare team.

Wound care and swelling control

Keep the incision sites clean and dry. Follow your surgeon's instructions for wound care, which may include covering the incisions with sterile dressings.

Swelling is common after knee surgery. Elevating your leg and applying ice as recommended can help minimize swelling and discomfort.

Weight-bearing and mobility

Gradually increase weight-bearing on the operated leg as directed by your surgeon or physical therapist. They will guide you on when it's safe to fully bear your weight on the treated knee.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is often a crucial component of recovery. Attend all scheduled therapy sessions and diligently perform prescribed exercises to regain strength and mobility in your knee.

Walking after arthroscopic knee surgery

You can walk after arthroscopic knee surgery, but it's essential to follow your surgeon's guidance. You may require crutches initially, but your surgeon will gradually transition you to walking without assistance as your knee heals.

What to avoid after knee arthroscopy

To ensure a smooth recovery, there are a few things you should avoid:

  • High-impact activities: Steer clear of activities that put excessive strain on your knee, such as running or jumping.
  • Driving: Avoid driving until your surgeon gives you the green light, usually after a week or two.
  • Strenuous work: If your job involves heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity, discuss when it's safe to return with your surgeon.

Discuss arthroscopic knee surgery with the best orthopedic surgeons on PreferredMD

In a nutshell, arthroscopic knee surgery is a remarkable advancement in orthopedic care. It offers a less invasive approach, shorter recovery times, and the promise of restored knee function. To ensure your journey to recovery is smooth, find the best orthopedic surgeon, prepare yourself mentally, and follow your surgeon's guidance post-surgery. While it's not a major surgery, it's a major step towards a pain-free, active life.

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