Here are some guidelines for activity after arthroscopic knee surgery:
- Take it easy the first day. You should rest on the day of surgery, other than getting up for the bathroom or to get meals or medication.
- Follow your doctor's instruction about walking or bearing weight on your affected leg. For many surgeries, normal walking can begin within a couple of days. For others, you may be told to only put light weight (toe touch) or no weight at all on the affected knee. If your surgeon tells you to use crutches, be sure to use them every time you walk.
- Do range-of-motion exercises as prescribed. To help you regain strength, balance, and range of motion in your legs and knees -- and prevent blood clots -- your doctor may recommend range-of-motion exercises. Usually, you should start these on the day of surgery, and do them as often as every hour you're awake. Your exercises may include:
- Quad sets. Tighten the muscles on the top of your thigh while at the same time pushing the back of your knee down into a chair or bed. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds.
- Ankle pumps. Slowly move the front of your foot up and down, as if you are pumping the brake on a car.
- Straight leg raises. Keep your bandaged leg flat and straight. Bend the other leg, with the foot flat on the floor. Slowly raise your bandaged leg until it is about 6 inches from the floor, keeping the leg as straight as you can. Hold for a count of 5 seconds and then lower the leg.
- Avoid activities that cause pain or swelling to the knee. Examples include climbing stairs or standing or sitting for long periods.
- Begin other activities as advised by your doctor. In most cases, you can start other activities a week after surgery, but talk with your doctor before you drive or do any sport or strenuous work. You should be able to bend your knee freely to 90 degrees before you do activities like biking, hiking, or lifting weights.