As stated elsewhere on this site, not every torn meniscus will require surgery. However, if in fact yours does, then you’re probably wondering what to expect in terms of your recovery from meniscal tear surgery during the days and weeks after the procedure.
Key factors that will influence meniscal tear recovery after surgery
There are many factors that will determine how quickly, or completely you recover from your meniscal tear surgery. Things such as age, weight, activity level, whether or not you had a repair or had the piece removed, and of course, your overall health will all enter into the determination of how rapidly you will respond. There are variables that we as surgeons can control — such as the use of various medications within the knee after the surgery. However, the most important variables are those I mentioned previously. In young, healthy active people with no evidence of osteoarthritis the recovery is generally fairly rapid. Most people are off crutches in a day, and stop taking pain medicine within a day or two. However, in contrast, if you are a patient who also has arthritis (which can NOT be treated with an arthroscopy) you may take longer to recover — and may not experience a “full” recovery.
Movement of the knee is encouraged during recovery from your meniscal surgery
After surgery you may be hesitant to get up and move about. However, you should actually be encouraged to move around as much as tolerated. This is important because it minimizes muscle atrophy, minimizes the risk of blood clots, and helps your lungs recover from the anesthesia. However, there are also some limitations to be expected. For example, if you had a meniscus repair surgery we may ask you to use crutches and avoid deep squats or pivoting and twisting on that leg for a few weeks. But if you simply had the piece cleared out of the knee, then you can resume fairly normal activities as tolerated. Be sure to check with your physicians first — then you will find these videos on quadriceps knee exercises and these hamstring exercises useful.
After surgery, the meniscal tear recovery experience is uniquely yours
If I scope 10 people on the same day for the same problem, I will hear about 10 different responses and recovery rates when I take your sutures out a week later. So, don’t push it… when your body is ready to resume activities after meniscus surgery you will know. Most important of all… listen to the instructions given to you by your surgeon.