Knee Arthroscopy Instructions

Print Discharge Instructions (Word doc)

What is a knee arthroscopy?

A knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, which provides the physician with a clear interior view of the knee joint. This can help with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the knee. The procedure is performed by placing an instrument, known as an arthroscope, into the knee joint through two to three small ¼ inch incisions.


Based on your physical health history you will have had general anesthesia or an anesthetic block for this procedure. If you had general anesthesia it is advised that you rest for the remainder of the day. Anesthetic agents can remain in one’s body for up to 24 hours. As a result you should not operate heavy machinery, drive a motor vehicle, consume alcohol, or make any important business decisions for 24 hours. If you had a regional anesthetic block please refer to the informational handout provided to you.


You will be given a prescription for pain medication either in your physician’s office prior to the surgery or before you are discharged home from the hospital. Take your medication as directed. Your doctor may have prescribed an anticoagulant for you to take. If so follow and take this medication as directed. For the first 24-48 hours: keep your leg elevated while applying ice packs around the knee. When using an ice pack it is very important not to place the ice directly on the skin. You should place a facecloth between the ice pack and your skin. The ice will help decrease pain and swelling. It will usually take two to four weeks for full swelling of the knee to resolve.

It is completely normal to feel water in your knee; it may even make a gurgling sound when you bend it. This is left over irrigation solution from surgery, which will eventually be reabsorbed.


A soft bandage has been placed on your knee. You may take the bandages off two days after surgery. If steri-strips were applied to the incisions, do not remove, let them fall off by themselves. Remaining steri-strips may be removed after day 10 following your surgery. However, if you don’t see anything on the incision, use band-aids to cover them for the next few days.


You may shower after two days. DO NOT soak in the tub or scrub the wounds in the shower. Pat the incisions clean and dry, then apply band-aids.

Crutch Walking:

You will need to use crutches or a cane until the strength in your leg returns. You may stop using the cane or crutches if you are able to walk without a limp.


Avoid athletics for a minimum of four to six weeks after arthroscopic surgery. During your follow up visit, check with your physician about when to return to specific sports activities such as extensive exercising, running, biking or any other sports. If able to tolerate please start the following exercises the day after surgery: Remember not to over do it.

• Lying on your back, straighten leg completely and tighten thigh muscle. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax leg.

• Lying on your back, keeping leg straight, raise leg 6 inches from the bed and hold for 10 seconds and then relax leg.

• Slowly bend knee and hold for a gentle stretch. Do not force the knee.

• Do these exercises 3-4 times a day.


To be able to start driving after surgery you should no longer require narcotic pain medication. If it was your right leg: you should also have no pain and strong leg control (meaning without crutches or a limp).

Notify your doctor if any of the following occurs:

• You have excessive drainage from the knee.

• You have increased redness, warmth and/or pus around the incisions.

• You have a fever greater than 101 degrees

• You have severe pain or swelling in your knee and leg.

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