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Tips For A Smooth Recovery From Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Once the orthopedic surgeon has repaired the torn cartilage in your knee, you'll begin several weeks of physical therapy to regain the full use of the joint. This is a slow process and requires patience as you make incremental progress with your knee. Here are some ways to help your recovery period go smoother.

Manage Your Pain Medication Properly

You'll leave the outpatient surgery clinic with one or more prescriptions for pain medication. For the first few weeks of your recovery, take these medications on a regular schedule, even if you're currently having little discomfort. Don't wait until your knee is painful to take any medication as it won't be as effective.

Schedule your pain medication so you take a dose a couple of hours before your physical therapy. You'll have less pain during your session and you won't be dreading doing your exercises because of the pain.

Set a Pace With the Physical Therapist and Stick With It

A successful recovery from a knee injury requires slow incremental progress. Learn to be patient with small improvements. If you push yourself beyond what your knee joint is capable of, you risk re-injuring your knee and setting back your recovery. In the later phases of recovery, you'll start to feel more confident with your knee. This is the time to be mindful of your pace, because you may be tempted to do too much with your knee.

Be Diligent About Doing Your Exercises Between Sessions With the Therapist

The exercises the therapist gives you to do at home supplement the work you do in the clinic. They improve the circulation in your knee, which promotes healing. They also prevent the muscles from contracting between sessions, so you'll gain more movement at each session. If you fail to do the home exercises, then you'll rely completely on the clinic sessions to make progress. This will prolong your recovery time.

Try Alternative Pain Relief Methods, If Necessary

If you find that even with medication, you have a lot of discomfort while working with the physical therapist, ask about the following additional approaches to controlling the pain.

Acupuncture - Some people experience less pain during physical therapy after they have a session with an acupuncture practitioner. This procedure increases the blood flow through your knee joint, which reduces inflammation. It also releases endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relief hormones.

Hydrotherapy - With this technique, the physical therapist works with your knee while you're in a pool or water tank. The water supports your knee as you do your exercises. There is less stress on the knee, but it gets the same workout.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) - This device uses a mild electrical current sent into your knee to disrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. When connected to a TENS unit, you'll have less pain during your physical therapy session.

Contact a physical therapist for more information.