Knee surgery, what's it like?

About 3 weeks ago at work, my left knee suddenly started hurting pretty bad. I visited my employer’s medical clinic and was sent to an orthopedic surgeon. X-rays were inconclusive so I had an MRI last Friday. The MRI revealed a torn miniscus and a small cyst. I am now tentatively scheduled for surgery on March 3rd. The doctor made it sound like a simple surgery but I have never had anything like this done before. The most complicated medical procedure I ever had done was a hanging hemmoroid about 10 years ago. That just involved a little local anethsia and a small rubber o-ring. I am in my mid 40’s and still have my tonsils. I was told I would be knocked out for about 45 minutes to an hour and I could go home about 3 hours later. The doctor told me about possible side effects such as blood clots and infections. Is it normal to be scared for what is thought as a simple procedure?

Oh, and this is on top of my wife having hernia surgery on the 21st of this month. The house is going to be more like a recovery room than a home for a while.

I had a torn meniscus removed from my knee, but this was before arthroscopic surgery. The first day after surgery: very sore. You won’t want to move it at all, but they’ll probably have you doing simple leg raising exercises immediately after the surgery to prevent atrophy from setting in.

Within a day or two after that, you should be able to limp along OK, although with a bit of pain. However, I didn’t need any narcotics after the first day.

From what I understand with arthroscopy, though, it shouldn’t even be as painful as my experience.

Good luck!

I had ACL reconstruction and arthroscopy a while ago.
Obviously, much more “work” than what you will be dealing with, but it’s really not sooo bad.
I was up and quasi moving with crutches the following day, albeit very painfully. I trashed the crutches a few weeks later, used a cane for a few weeks.

Good luck!!

I’ve had several scopes dones on my knees. The state of the art has progressed quite a bit. When I had my first scope in college, it was done in-patient, I stayed overnight, and I was on crutches for a month.

When I had the last one done, it was inpatient, I used crutches a bit the first couple of days…that was it.

Be sure to do the post op exercises that they suggest, speeds the healing.

I’ve had both ACLs done (arthroscopically) and a patella fracture repaired (open knee). Here’s some thoughts:

  1. The anesthesia is key to how you feel immediately afterwards. The first ACL, the options were general and an epidural. I chose the general, and had to stay in the hospital overnight due to mild reaction to the anesthetic. The second ACL and the patella fracture, they had a new anesthesiology technique, which involved a nerve block and a tranquilizer. This technique was vastly superior. For the ACL, I was out and at home the same day. For the patella fracture, I still had to stay overnight so they could flush my system with antibiotics (consequence of opening it up). But I didn’t feel as shitty as I did under general anesthesia.

  2. I don’t know if it’s recommended therapy for a meniscus tear, but for the ACL, I used a machine called a CPM when I was at home. It is basically a motorized rack that slowly extends and retracts your leg. You have to sit in it for about 6 hrs/ day (3 sessions of 2 hrs each), but it really works wonders on getting your range of motion back. You start at a slight range of motion (say 30 degrees) and then work your way up to 90 degrees flexion. You would obviously want to take about a week off of work to do this, but, as a bonus, it gives you a chance to catch up on your TV/video watching. It’s not always covered under insurance, but I would ask your doctor about it and see if he/she recommends it. My physical therapists were quite pleased on all occasions when I had a 90 degree flex.

  3. I was on two crutches for about 1 week, and on a single crutch for another. Once you start physical therapy, they’ll start trying to work you off the crutches pretty quickly.

  4. I think the regime for ACL recovery is more aggressive (esp. for athletes) than meniscus tearing, but that’s a function of what they do in each surgery. But in any event, physical therapists are your friends. Listen to them, do what they say, and do the home exercise program.

I just had the same arthroscopy done for a torn menicus done two months ago. I was out of the hospital within 6 hours of check-in. I was in an immobilizer brace for 3 days and on crutches for another week and a half. I began therapy within a week and was walking semi normally by the time I was done with the crutches. More than anything, although it is hard to do, LISTEN to your doctor and stay off of it or it won’t heal as quickly as it can. Good luck!

Damn! Always Check Spelling. That should be a torn Meniscus.:smack:

Good point. I tossed my cookies and had a rough go with general anesthesia.

beagledave likes versed, a “twilight anesthesia” much better.

I’m awaiting the same surgery for a torn meniscus. From what I’ve been told, if it’s done by laparascopy (sp?), the healing should be quick, but everyone that I’ve talked to said you feel better AS SOON as you wake up from the anethesia. I don’t know if you have pain all the time like I do, but that in itself makes me feel better about getting it done. For me, I’m looking at surgery around mid March. Good luck.

Had my right knee scoped about 3 years ago. I was in an immobilizer brace for several weeks, and on crutches/walker for a good bit of that time. Do your exercises, take plenty of Tylenol, and don’t try to do too much for the first few weeks.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. If you have no allergies or other conditions that would keep you from getting them, get the good painkillers (Norco, Vicodin, etc.). I tend to turn in my sleep to get comfortable, and wasn’t able to relax because of the discomfort and lack of motion in my leg. The drugs helped relax me to the point where I didn’t care that I wasn’t in the optimal position and could get to sleep. They should be used sparingly, and only at night unless you’re in unbearable pain. But I found that I slept much better with them, particularly when I was in a full hip to ankle cast after the patella fracture.

Oh my . . . is there an epidemic or something? I have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in about 10 hours - I fell and hurt my knee about a month ago, and supposedly last week’s MRI shows some torn cartilage. The woman who called with my test results said “a very small tear in your small knee joint” - what in the hell is that? My “small knee joint”? Maybe she misread what the doctor wrote.

Anyway, I’ve had trouble with my knee off-and-on for years without trying to do anything about it and now I’ve made it worse, so I’m expecting a recommendation for surgery myself. I’m sooo hoping it will be outpatient surgery - it sure is a relief to read that this was the case for most of you.

I hope I don’t have the same problem that jeevmon had! But I sure was happy to see that jeevmon was given the option NOT to go under general anesthesia - I’m terrified of being knocked out and planned to beg for some non-unconscious alternative. I’ve assisted at plenty of surgeries (including lots of pretty yucky trauma stuff) while working as a veterinary asst., so they won’t have the excuse that it’ll be too ‘gross’ for me.

racer72, if I go under the knife first I’ll make sure I post my experience here for you! And, um, what kind of hernia did your wife have, if she doesn’t mind you telling? I also have a hiatal hernia and turned down the surgery option unless it gets much, much worse. I don’t really mind having someone poke around in my knee, but opening a body cavity is another thing entirely!

And then there’s my elbow, but that’s another thread . . .

Oh goody - I got a reprieve on the surgery. I have a Baker’s cyst, but there’s some question about the torn cartilage (yep, that darn meniscus) - the doc that read the MRI says he sees a tear, but both my G.P. and the ortho doc say my physical evaluation is inconsistent with this diagnosis (I don’t scream with pain when they twist my knee).

So that’s on hold while we deal with the priority knee problem, which is arthritis and the searing, disabling pain that occurs whenever one particular spot is touched (the pressure of my pant’s leg is too much). The ortho doc said he thinks I literally bruised the bone - that when I fell I drove the end of my femur into the back of my kneecap with enough force to damage the kneecap, and possibly the end of the femur. He wants to get that healed first, then see where we stand with the rest of the damage.

So I have a nifty knee brace, a long-term prescription to Celebrex, and another appointment in 6 weeks. I also had a REALLY NIFTY CORTISONE SHOT!. I don’t think they put more than a half-a-gallon in my knee, and honestly it was nowhere near as bad as the cortisone shots I’ve had to take right into a hot nerve. I only said one really ugly word!

The ortho doc is pretty cool - I think I may have a serious crush now. :wink: Young, handsome, smart, and funny as hell - and kept saying “That’s okay, that’s okay” every time I apologized for my language. (Well, he located that super-sensitive spot, which I had already gaspingly assured him was right under his finger and letting me know it . In typical doctor fashion, he then says “So how bad does this hurt?” and mashes it! I think he got a very clear understanding when I screamed “SHIT!” and levitated about a foot straight up off of the table. :smiley: “That bad, huh?” Smart ass doctor.)

Oh, and I have a nice pad for my elbow where I have cubital tunnel syndrome - I get to wear it like a normal person when I’m up and about, so that it cushions the nerve. When I go to bed I have to turn it over so that the pad is inside my elbow, to keep me from sleeping with my elbow bent. That is sooo comfy. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I’ve escaped the knife (or laser, or whatever) temporarily, so racer is the next victim, then elgar. If y’all think about it, pop back in here and let me know what it’s like - I may have the option of skipping the surgery, as the doc isn’t sure it will help very much.