What to Expect After Knee Meniscal Surgery

What to Expect After Knee Meniscal Surgery

Meniscus injuries are among the most common knee injuries, with surgeons performing an estimated 850,000 meniscus surgery each year in the United States. 

Board-certified sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon Michael Klassen, MD, performs a full range of orthopedic surgical approaches and routinely repairs meniscal tears, particularly common in contact sports. 

If you’re scheduled for meniscal surgery, it helps to know what to expect, especially if you’re an athlete eager to get back in the game. 

What is a meniscus?

Your knees have a rubbery C-shaped cushion made of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber for your knee joint. When you bear weight on your knees by jumping, running, and walking, this cartilage ensures that the bones of your knee joint glide smoothly so that you can bend your knees with ease.

In patients 65 and older, age-related degenerative changes to the knee are the most common cause of meniscal tears. In younger patients, sudden trauma is the most common cause. Sports that require certain quick pivoting and twisting movements put you at a particularly increased risk for meniscal tears. During meniscus surgery, Dr. Klassen sews the torn cartilage together so that it can heal or trim damaged cartilage away.

Recovering from meniscus surgery

Each recovery is unique and depends on several factors, such as the nature of your meniscus injury, the particulars of your surgery, your age, and your current health status. Here are a few things you can expect on your recovery journey.

Self-care at home after meniscus surgery

If you have a brace, Dr. Klassen may advise you to begin bearing weight on your knee by standing and walking as soon as possible. You can expect to feel more tired than usual for about a week following your surgery. 

Swelling of the knee is normal, and you may experience some numbness. You can use ice to control the swelling. It should resolve within a few days. It’s important to rest when you feel tired, but you should be able to go about your daily tasks.

Rehabilitation

You can expect to work closely with Dr. Klassen and a physical therapist to rehabilitate your knee. Physical therapy will help you rebuild strength in the knee joint with specific rehabilitation exercises to help your knee become strong and stable. 

Physical therapy generally begins with passive exercises, whereby the physical therapist moves your leg for you. It may take 1-2 weeks to regain full range of motion. When your knee is ready, your physical therapist will guide you through active physical therapy exercises where you move your knee on your own. 

Returning to work

When you can return to work depends on the type of job. Patients with desk jobs can often return to work five days to two weeks. For jobs that require standing, it may take 4-6 weeks before you can return, and for physically active jobs, it can take 3-6 months before you're able to return.

Returning to your sport

How soon you can return to sport will depend on many factors. It’s crucial for you to follow your rehabilitation program and work with your team to ensure that your knee is strong and stable enough to return to sport. Returning to your sport early puts you at significant risk for reinjury. Depending on the sport, it may take six months before you’re cleared to return. 

You’re in very capable hands when you choose top-quality orthopedic and sports surgeon Dr. Klassen. If you have any questions regarding your surgery, schedule a visit with Dr. Klassen by phone or online today. We’re in your corner and ready to help you get back to your life. 

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