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Knee arthroscopy - discharge


You had surgery to treat problems in your knee. This article discusses how to take care of yourself when you go home from the hospital.

Alternative Names

Knee scope - arthroscopic lateral retinacular release - discharge; Synovectomy - discharge; Patellar debridement - discharge; Meniscus repair - discharge; Lateral release - discharge; Collateral ligament repair - discharge; Knee surgery - discharge

When You're in the Hospital

You had surgery to treat problems in your knee (knee arthroscopy). You may have been checked for:

What to Expect at Home

You may be able to put weight on your knee in the first week after having this surgery if your health care provider says it is OK. Also, ask your provider if there are activities you should limit. Most people can return to their normal activities within the first month. You may need to be on crutches for a while depending on your procedure.

If you have a more complicated knee arthroscopy procedure, you may not be able to walk for several weeks. You may also need to use crutches or a knee brace. Full recovery may take several months to a year.


Pain is normal after knee arthroscopy. It should get better over time.

You will get a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filled when you go home so that you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine as soon as pain starts. This will prevent it from getting too bad.

You may have received a nerve block, so you don't feel pain during and after surgery. Make sure you take your pain medicine. The nerve block will wear off, and pain can return very quickly.

Taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine may also help. Ask your provider what other medicines are safe to take with your pain medicine.

DO NOT drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. This medicine may make you too sleepy to drive safely.


Your provider will ask you to rest when you first go home. Keep your leg propped up on 1 or 2 pillows. Place the pillows under your foot or calf muscle. This helps control swelling in your knee.

For most procedures, you may start to put weight on your leg soon after surgery, unless your provider tells you not to. You should:

Ask your provider when you can return to work or drive again.

Wound Care

You will have a dressing and an ace bandage around your knee when you go home. DO NOT remove these until your provider says it is OK. Keep the dressing and bandage clean and dry.

Place an ice pack on your knee 4 to 6 times a day for the first 2 or 3 days. Be careful not to get the dressing wet. DO NOT use a heating pad.

Keep the ace bandage on until your provider tells you it is OK to remove it.

When you shower, wrap your leg in plastic to keep it from getting wet until your stitches or tape have been removed. Please check with your surgeon to see whether that is OK. After that, you may get the incisions wet when you shower. Be sure to dry the area well.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:


Griffin JW, Hart JA, Thompson SR, Miller MD. Basics of knee arthroscopy. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 94.

Phillips BB, Mihalko MJ. Arthroscopy of the lower extremity. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 51.

Review Date: 11/5/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.