Knee Arthroscopy

  • Keep gauze dressings and ace wrap on for 48 hours. It is normal to see some bloody drainage on the dressings. If bright red blood persists despite elevation and icing, please call the doctor.
  • Remove dressing after 48 hours and cover wounds with dry Band-Aids. Do not remove the stitches.
  • You may reapply the ace wrap during the day to provide some light compression to help with swelling. Do not wear ace wrap at night.
  • If you can keep the incisions dry, you may shower. You can wrap your knee with a plastic bag and seal it with plastic wrap. If this is too difficult, use a wash cloth to clean up and avoid getting the knee wet.
  • You may shower on post-operative day four without wrapping your knee. However, do not submerge your knee in a bathtub, hot tub or pool for two weeks.
  • Ice and elevate for the first 5-7 days postoperatively. While the post-op dressing is in place, icing should be continuous. Once the dressing is removed on the second day, ice is to be applied for 20 minute periods, 4-5 times per day.
  • Care must be taken with icing to avoid frostbite to the skin. Place a light cloth over the incisions as you ice to protect the skin. Elevate leg above your heart while icing.
Activity / Exercise
  • Rest the knee for 24 hours. You may bear full weight on the knee, unless otherwise instructed at the time of surgery. Crutches will be provided to assist with ambulation.
  • Use pain as your guide for the exercises - if it hurts, slow down.
    1. Heel Roll: Roll a towel and put it under your heel with nothing under your knee. Work on pushing your knee straight down towards the floor. Hold this position for 10 counts. You may assist this by resting your hand on your thigh, near the knee to keep your leg straight. Relax after 10 counts, then repeat 10 times. This exercise should be done hourly while awake.
    2. Quad Sets: Tighten your thigh muscles, hold for 5 counts. Relax. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. When you tighten your thigh muscles, it will feel like your knee is straightening (that is OK).
    3. Heel Slides: Lay on your back with legs out straight. Slowly slide your heel towards your buttock as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 counts. Relax and straighten your leg. Repeat 10 times. You can assist by using a towel around your foot to pull the leg up. These exercises must be done non-weight bearing.
    4. Ankle Pumps: To encourage blood flow in your legs, and prevent blood clots (DVT), move your ankles up and down at least 10 times hourly.
    5. Patella Mobilization: Move the kneecap toward the inner side of your leg and hold for 5 seconds. Move the kneecap toward the outer side of your leg and hold for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions in each direction.
    6. Straight Leg Raises: While in a sitting position, lift your leg off the ground a few inches and hold for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat this 10 times. Repeat this for 4 sets of 10 repetitions.
    7. Stationary Bike: must be done with seat raised to limit knee flexion to 90 degrees.
  • Use medication as directed (per the bottle). No pain medication is capable of taking away all the pain; taking your pills at regular intervals will give you the best chance of having less pain.
  • Do not combine with alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not drive.
  • Nausea, vomiting and dizziness may present while using pain medications. If these symptoms persist, call Julia at the Aspen clinic (414-328-8602) and we can change the medication.
  • Take your pain medication about one hour before you go to bed. In some cases, it is more comfortable to sleep in a recliner or on a couch the first few days after surgery.
  • You may switch to over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol, as you become more comfortable.
  • You should resume your normal medications for other conditions the day after surgery.
  • We have no specific diet restrictions after surgery but extensive use of narcotics can lead to constipation. High fiber diet, lots of fluids, and muscle activity can prevent this occurrence.
  • Your follow-up appointment will be in about 10-12 days. Please call the office to schedule this appointment.
  • Most patients are able to drive if surgery does not involve their right leg as soon as they stop taking narcotic pain medications. Driving while under the influence of narcotic medications is extremely dangerous and discouraged in all patients.
  • Returning to school or work also depends on the degree of postoperative pain and the demands of your job. Pain is generally an appropriate guide.
When to call the office
If you experience the following symptoms call our office as soon as possible (414-328-8600). These may be signs of infection or deep venous thrombosis:
  • Severe pain with fever greater than 101 F (~38.3 C).
  • Limited knee range of motion.
  • Calf or thigh pain that is consistent and does not go away.
  • With chest pain or shortness of breath, call 911.

Exercise guide available on