TW - Knee Arthroscopy - Postoperative Care TW - Knee Arthroscopy - Postoperative Care (148 KB)


This information sheet provides guidelines of how to care for your knee after an arthroscopy. 

Your operation

You have had an arthroscopy. This procedure involves the examination of the inside of your knee using a telescope (arthroscope), through two or more small punctures at the front of your knee. A variety of surgical procedures can be done with this technique.

Local anaesthetic has been injected into your knee. When this wears off, your knee may become more painful. It may also swell. Therefore, the day after surgery may be more uncomfortable than the day of surgery. It is better to use painkillers when the pain is starting, rather than wait until it has already built up.

As a general principle, it is best to start with paracetamol (Panadol). If this is not enough you will have been prescribed something stronger. You may also have been prescribed anti-inflammatory tablets to help with pain relief in the first few days after surgery.


The small puncture wounds are held together by small tapes (Steristrips). They are covered by waterproof plastic patches, so you can shower directly onto the knee. The dressings can be completely removed after 10 days. The cuts can be left open if healed, or covered with a bandaid if still open. A Tubigrip will be placed on your knee after the operation and should be worn during the day until your swelling reduces (usually about 2-4 weeks).



During the first 3 days you should rest with your leg elevated as much as possible. You can then gradually increase your activity, guided by your pain and swelling.


For the first week you should try to ice your knee as much as possible. It is best to ice for 20-30 minutes at a time with the same amount of rest between icing. After this time ice the knee following exercise and at the end of the day until your swelling reduces (usually about 2-4 weeks).

An increase in pain and swelling at about 4 or 5 days following surgery is not uncommon. Ice, compression and elevation will all help reduce your symptoms.


Unless otherwise instructed, you can place as much weight on the leg as comfortable with the help of crutches for the first 2-3 days following surgery.

The pattern of walking is:

To manage steps with crutches:


Begin this exercise program the day after your operation and continue it for the first two weeks.

1) Knee locking using the quadriceps

With a rolled towel under your heel, tighten the muscle at the front of your thigh and push your knee into the bed. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Repeat 20-30 times, 3-4 times a day.

2) Straight leg raises

Lying flat, lock your knee straight and then lift the whole leg about 30cms off the bed. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Repeat 10-20 times, 3-4 times a day.

3) Knee bending

Slide your heel up towards your bottom as far as comfortable. Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times, 3-4 times a day. Gradually regain your full movement.

4) Knee bending on your stomach

Begin this exercise about 3 days after your operation. Lie on your stomach and bend your knee as far as comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times, 3-4 times a day.

Return to activities
5-7 days 
Exercise bike     1-2 weeks
Swimming 2-4 weeks
Gym 2-4 weeks
Exercise walking 2-6 weeks
Golf 3-8 weeks
Running 4-8 weeks
Sport 6-8 weeks
Time off work
Sedentary 5-10 days
Manual 2-4 weeks

These times are guidelines only and may vary depending on your surgery.

These notes have been prepared by orthopaedic surgeons at OrthoSport Victoria. They are general overviews and information aimed for use by their specific patients and reflects their views, opinions and recommendations. This does not constitute medical advice. The contents are provided for information and education purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Please seek the advice of your specific surgeon or other health care provider with any questions regarding medical conditions and treatment.