4 Things You Should Know About Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Health & Medical Articles

If your orthopedic doctor has informed you that you may need knee surgery, don't panic. Modern orthopedic surgery techniques such as arthroscopic surgery have made knee operations simpler, more successful, and easier to recover from than ever before. Even so, the more you know about these techniques beforehand, the more easily you can sail through the procedure and subsequent recuperation period. Here are four tidbits of information to help you better understand arthroscopic knee surgery.

1. Arthroscopy Makes It Easier

Arthroscopy is the technique of viewing the inside the body through an arthroscope (a tiny camera attached to a thin, flexible tube). This tube can be inserted into the knee through a couple of tiny incisions. The orthopedic surgeon then performs the procedure using special elongated instruments contained within the tube, watching his work in close-up on a video monitor.

This method of surgery is far less invasive than old-fashioned techniques. The ability to operate through a tiny incision, just large enough to accommodate the arthroscopic equipment, spares you from the large surgical incisions and potential nerve damage of traditional surgery. As a result, you'll have much less pain and fewer side effects from the surgery. You'll also heal more quickly and enjoy restored function in a shorter period of time.

2. You May Have Multiple Options

In some cases, arthroscopic knee surgery may be optional instead of mandatory. For example, if you have a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), your doctor may determine that you can recover naturally, supporting the weakened knee by wearing a brace. Even within the realm of arthroscopic knee surgery, there may be a few different options to consider when repairing your injured or degenerated knee. Ask your surgeon to go over the various options and alternative techniques with you so you can know exactly what's going on and why.

If you have more than one nagging knee problem, it could make good sense to have both issues addressed at the same time. Using the previous example of ACL replacement, you could choose to have a torn meniscus cartilage (which often accompanies ACL damage) dealt with simultaneously so you won't have to undergo a second surgery later on.

3. It Pays to Prepare for Recovery

Even advanced procedures such as arthroscopic knee surgery will involve a certain amount of recovery time. You'll be semi-disabled for quite some time, so make sure you've prepared your home with a comfortable reclining chair and moved heavy objects in your home for easier access as needed. Since you'll be sent home from the surgery under the influence of sedative medication, you'll need to make sure you have a ride.

While you're recuperating at home, you'll probably need help with various everyday tasks, as well as transportation to and from followup medical evaluations. You can make this easier on yourself by doing some advance research on:

  • Local transit services for people with physical impairments (at least until you can drive with confidence again)
  • Errand-running services that can pick up your groceries, collect your mail, make laundry runs, et cetera

4. You'll Need Physical Rehabilitation

As annoying and inconvenient as you may find it, you really do need to follow the course of physical therapy prescribed by your orthopedic doctor. In fact, physical therapy may begin before you even go in for the surgery. Inflamed, swollen knee tissues may need to settle down and heal as best they can before the procedure, to ensure optimal recovery.

Following surgery, you'll start working on extending your leg and building leg strength within the first two weeks. You'll then proceed to full-scale physical rehabilitation exercises to restore the best possible stability, flexibility, and range of motion in the knee. Don't be surprised if the rehab program takes up to six months to complete -- and stick with the whole thing. Inadequate rehab could allow internal scar tissue to form, leading to long-term pain and stiffness.

Arthroscopic knee surgery can make your knee just as good as it was before -- but only if you help the process along by making informed decisions each step of the way. Consult with your doctor, make your own arrangements at home, and follow your physical therapy instructions so you can get back up and running!


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