Getting back in the game after an injury or surgery is often a challenge. Do it too soon, and you can re-injure yourself after weeks, or even months, of rehabilitation.
At Performance Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. David Dickerson, an accomplished orthopedic surgeon, understands that you want to resume your normal activities, including sports, after knee injuries and surgery. Dr. Dickerson offers these five tips for returning to sports after arthroscopic knee surgery.
Pain is a natural part of knee arthroscopy and the healing process. Take prescribed medications as Dr. Dickerson recommends to help minimize pain and swelling. Sometimes, you can manage the pain and swelling with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs).
Medications provide relief so you can move your knee to aid in the recovery process. Icing and elevating your knee as recommended will help keep swelling down and minimize the risk of complications in the area of your incisions. A few days after surgery, Dr. Dickerson checks your progress, examines your knee, and begins your postoperative therapy program.
At Performance Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, physical therapy is an important part of your recovery and rehabilitation after arthroscopic knee surgery. Since arthroscopy is minimally invasive, this typically means you’ll have a shorter recovery period than you would with traditional open knee surgery. However, you still need to take it easy for several weeks following your procedure.
Perhaps you’ve heard that you can get back to playing soccer or basketball at your usual performance level just a couple of weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery. It depends on the type of injury you had repaired, and the surgery itself, but realistically, plan on recovery taking about six weeks before you can return to sprinting or jumping. The last thing you want to do is injure your knee all over again and sit on the sidelines even longer than you anticipated!
The length of your recovery depends on several factors, including your age, overall health, and the type of knee arthroscopy you have. Returning to your favorite sport in full force, including unrestricted running, jumping, and changing direction, could take three to four months. If you’re a cyclist or a swimmer, you may be back to your workouts sooner, since these activities put less strain on your knees.
After healing from knee arthroscopy, if you’re at risk of injuring the other knee, or you want to minimize your risk of additional knee problems in general, you may need to switch to lower-impact sports and activities until you feel ready to engage in high-impact ones. For example, if you’re an avid outdoor runner — a high-impact activity — you might consider biking, swimming, or walking, so you can avoid putting so much pressure on your knees. Dr. Dickerson recommends the most effective way to proceed for your individual condition with regard to your particular sports.
Depending on your specific condition and the sports you play, Dr. Dickerson may recommend wearing a knee brace for added support as you heal from arthroscopic surgery. Knee braces and wraps can also help keep swelling down as you participate in your rehabilitation program. When you do return to your favorite sport, a knee brace may provide the added security you need to feel confident in staying safe at your ideal performance level.
Knee arthroscopy is much less invasive and debilitating than open surgery. Stick to your recovery plan, have patience, and you’ll be back in the game before you know it.
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