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Knee Arthroscopy - Is it worse to recover from than I thought?
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Questions in the Orthopedics & Sports Medicine forum are answered by Michael L. Gross, MD the CEO of Active Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

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Knee Arthroscopy - Is it worse to recover from than I thought?

I injured my knee in a fall several months back and after reviewing my MRI film, my Orthopedic Surgeon suggested going in to remove a small fragment that looked to be the culprit of swelling, fluid and popping/locking/pain in my knee. She noticed my miniscus appeared "mashed" but not torn so she would only go in to peek around and remove the mysterious "speck" of debris. She explained it was a simple outpatient procedure and that I should be back to normal activity in 3-4 days. I had the knee arthroscopy performed eight days ago. I started doing the recommended exercises on post-op day three but could not do them for long as my knee would throb and the flexing would cause searing pain up and down my entire leg. It has gotten worse to where I can't do the exercises at all, as if my leg is "tightening" and my range of motion is decreasing. The main problem I am having, is that if I am not completely doped on percocet, it feels as if the bottom half of my leg is hanging freely from the joint, pulling like a pendulum whether I'm sitting, standing or lying down. The pain is ridiculous. I can't put pressure on the leg. She wants me to walk but I have no range of motion. The pain is unbearable right from the point I lift my foot to step forward. I have to drag the leg to get to the bathroom with minimal pain. My follow up isn't until the end of the week and I don't know if I'll make it. Did I misunderstand the "back to normal after 3-4 days"? Does this procedure have a longer down time than I was told? I hate posting here and sounding ridiculous, but my Dr. is very intimidating and makes me feel guilty for having pain and questioning my pain. I'm really scared. Could I be damaging my knee by trying to walk on it more? Thank you for any help you can offer - I really appreciate it so much!
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Two important details are missing. What did your surgeon find and what did she do?  

Having said that; although some patients are improved after several days, very few are completely recovered.  Many patients require 4-6 weeks of physical therapy, and then continue to improve for several months.  That feelingof increasing tightness and decreasing motion might be caused by inreasing fluid building up inside the knee (an effusion).  Ice and NSAID's are often helpful here.

Finally, it sounds as if your surgeon has not perscribed physical therapy.  If this is true, you might ask her if she wouldn't mind adding a short course for you.  Either way, don't panic.  Every patient is different, and some recover more slowly than others.  This should pass.
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