New Mexico specialists of the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle
 

 
 

Care of the Knee after Surgery
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Post-Op Care
The protocols described here are general in nature. Every human being and every surgery is different so the information given here is for general guidance only. If you have questions you should contact us.

For detailed Post-Op information on each of the surgeries we perform, click on the procedure listed below. To return to the menu, click the 'Top' link immediately following each Post-Op description.

Partial Menisectomy
Meniscus Repair
Meniscus Transplant
Chondroplasty
Microfracture
Osteochondral Transfer
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation / Other Articular Cartilage Restoration Procedures
ACL Reconstruction
PCL Reconstruction
Unicompartmental Arthroplasty

Partial Menisectomy
After part of the meniscus has been trimmed the body forms scar over it, smoothing the area. Meniscus tissue is nourished by joint fluid because it does not have a complete blood supply. While this healing is taking place there is more fluid in the joint than usual. Often, especially early on, there is enough fluid in the joint to limit motion.

Crutches are provided for comfort after Menisectomy. Unless there is some other problem in the joint it will not cause damage to bear full weight. You can discontinue the crutches at your own pace. Sometimes it is more comfortable to use only one crutch for a while. There is no real benefit to pushing yourself to increased activity in the first week after surgery. Advance your activity as you are able and be patient. We will start physical therapy when your stitches are out.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches but you can work your way off of them when your pain and stability allow. You may find that after you have been up on crutches fro a while you have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with band aids. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery ad will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about week five or six after your surgery. For many people this is the last visit.
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Meniscus Repair
The protocols described here are for general information. There will probably be some differences in each case from what is said here.

After part of the meniscus has been stitched back together, the pieces grow back together. Meniscus tissue is nourished by joint fluid because it does not have a complete blood supply. While this healing is taking place there is more fluid in the joint than usual. Often, especially early on, there is enough fluid in the joint to limit motion.

We do not want you to bend your knee completely while the meniscus is healing. Bending the knee, even without your weight on it, can cause it to tear again. For this reason we put your leg in a knee immobilizer to help protect the meniscus. Dr. Tabet will tell you how much bending is safe for your particular case.

Crutches are provided for comfort. It is actually OK to put your weight on the knee. Unless there is some other problem in the joint it will not cause damage to bear full weight. You can discontinue the crutches at your own pace. You should continue to use the knee immobilizer. Sometimes it is more comfortable to use only one crutch for a while. There is no real benefit to pushing yourself to increased activity in the first week after surgery. Advance your activity as you are able and be patient. Generally bending will be restricted to 70 degrees for the first 4 weeks.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches but you can work your way off of them when your pain and stability allow. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while you have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. You may be safer in the shower if you use a plastic chair or stool so that you don't slip or fall. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about physical therapy and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery.
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Meniscus Transplant
Management of the knee after meniscus transplant is very much like a meniscus repair. The basic ideas are that knee bending and weight bearing must be limited for the first 6 weeks.

We do not want you to bend your knee completely while the meniscus is healing. Bending the knee, even without your weight on it, can cause it to tear. For this reason we put your leg in a knee immobilizer to help protect the meniscus. Dr. Tabet will tell you how much bending is safe for your particular case.

Crutches are provided for comfort. Weight bearing should be limited, 25 lbs. of weight bearing is okay. You can discontinue the crutches after 6 weeks, but should continue to use the immobilizer during this perios as directed. There is no real benefit to pushing yourself to increased activity in the first week after surgery. Advance your activity as you are able and be patient. It is important to use the immobilizer for six weeks after the surgery.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches, putting partial weight on your leg. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while you have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. You may be safer in the shower if you use a plastic chair or stool so that you don't slip or fall. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. You will need extra large bandaids for the longer incisions. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about physical therapy and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery.
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Chondroplasty
The body does not make new cartilage. When the cartilage that covers the joint surfaces is damaged there is friction which causes more and more wear until no repair is possible. If this process can be stopped early on the life of the joint can be prolonged and a higher level of function maintained. Chondroplasty is the simplest form of cartilage repair. Chondroplasty means smoothing over the damaged surface. When this is done the body will form scar over the area and this makes for less friction and less wear.

Activity needs to be limited for at least a month after chondroplasty to give time for healing.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches but you can work your way off of them when your pain and stability allow. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about week five or six after your surgery. For many people this is the last visit.
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Microfracture
The body does not make new cartilage. When the cartilage that covers the joint surfaces is damaged there is friction which causes more and more wear until no repair is possible. If this process can be stopped early on the life of the joint can be prolonged and a higher level of function maintained. If cartilage damage extends to the bone that lies beneath it, microfracture is done to encourage scar tissue to fill the defect. This makes for less friction and less wear.

Doctor Tabet will recommend that you use crutches and only put a small amount of weight down with each step. This will continue for four weeks after your surgery. You will also be sent home with a Continuous Passive Motion Machine. Use of this machine has been shown to stimulate healing after microfracture.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches. Continue to use the crutches until Dr. Tabet says it is OK to discontinue their use. It is all right to touch the injured leg to the ground but the pressure should not be greater than 25 pounds. Use your bathroom scales to judge how much pressure this is. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Sometimes Dr. Tabet will order a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine for you to use at home. This machine is used in bed to move the knee. This helps reduce swelling, increases motion and stimulates healing

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery. For many people this is the last visit.
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Osteochondral Transfer
When bone and cartilage are transferred from one area of the knee to another, it takes about a month for this to be incorporated into the new site so that it is stable and can withstand the forces of weightbearing and pivoting with weight.

Progression

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches. Continue to use the crutches until Dr. Tabet says it is OK to discontinue their use. Usually, he will want you to continue the crutches for a month after your surgery. It is all right to touch the injured leg to the ground but the pressure should not be greater than 25 pounds. Use your bathroom scales to judge how much pressure this is. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can switch to Tylenol.

Sometimes Dr. Tabet will order a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine for you to use at home. This machine is used in bed to move the knee. This helps reduce swelling, increases motion and stimulates healing.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery. For many people this is the last visit.
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Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation / Other Articular Cartilage Restoration Procedures

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches. Continue to use the crutches until Dr. Tabet says it is OK to discontinue their use. Usually, he will want you to continue the crutches for 4-6 weeks after your surgery. It is all right to touch the injured leg to the ground but the pressure should not be greater than 25 pounds. Use your bathroom scales to judge how much pressure this is. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more. You can remove the dressings at about 48 hours after your surgery. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. You will need regular sized bandaids for the small incisions and extra large bandaids for the longer incisions. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can reduse the dose, take it less frequently or switch to Tylenol.

Sometimes Dr. Tabet will order a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine for you to use at home. This machine is used in bed to move the knee. This helps reduce swelling, increases motion and stimulates healing.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. At this visit we will The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery.

Rehab procedures are also online at http://www.carticel.com/patients/treatment/rehabilitation.aspx
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ACL Reconstruction

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches. You can discontinue the crutches when you are comfortable without them. It will not damage your knee to bear weight. For the first week we want you to use a knee immobilizer when you are walking. This is a brace which keeps your leg straight and helps with pain and stability. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

A drain is put in your knee so there will be a tube that comes out of the dressing to a canister that collects the drainage. You will receive instructions in the recovery room about taking care of the drain.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more.

Sometimes Dr. Tabet will order a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine for you to use at home. This machine is used in bed to move the knee. This helps reduce swelling, increases motion and stimulates healing. The CPM is usually delivered to your home on the day after surgery. The person who delivers the CPM will remove your drain.

After the drain has been removed, you can remove the dressings. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. You will need regular sized bandaids for the small incisions and extra large bandaids for the longer incisions. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can reduce the dose, take it less frequently or switch to Tylenol.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery.
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PCL Reconstruction

Day 1
When you are discharged from the day surgery unit you will be taken to the car in a wheel chair. You should have your crutches in the car to help you get from the car to your home.

Begin taking liquids and food as soon as you can. You should always take some solid food, a sandwich or light meal, a little while before taking your pain medications.

We will start you with crutches. You can discontinue the crutches after 2 weeks. For the first 2 weeks we want you to use a knee immobilizer. This is a brace which keeps your leg straight and helps with pain and stability. You may find that after you have been up on crutches for a while, you may have increased pain and tightness in your knee. That is an indication that you should get off of your feet and get your knee above your heart. Icing your knee may help provide some relief. You can get up and go again when your swelling and pain decrease. Each day you should be able to do a little more and have to spend less time with your leg elevated.

A drain is put in your knee so there will be a tube that comes out of the dressing to a canister that collects the drainage. You will receive instructions in the recovery room about taking care of the drain. We will make arrangements for you to come in for drain removal about 48 hours after your surgery.

Day 2
Things are much the same on the second day after your surgery. Usually you have less pain and feel like being up more.

After the drain has been removed, you can remove the dressings. It is OK to shower and wash the incisions with soap and water. There is no need to cover the incisions. Do not soak the knee as in a bathtub. After you dry your knee you can cover the incisions with bandaids. You will need regular sized bandaids for the small incisions and extra large bandaids for the longer incisions. If you feel that the pain medication you were given after surgery is stronger than you really need you can reduce the dose, take it less frequently or switch to Tylenol.

We want you to use the knee immobilizer at all times for the first month after your surgery. Bending the knee can stretch the PCL graft.

Approximately Day 7
We will see you back about one week after your surgery and remove your stitches. We will review with you what was done in surgery and will talk about rehab and answer any questions you may have. The next follow up after the sutures are out will be about five or six weeks after your surgery
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Unicompartmental Arthroplasty
Unicompartmental Arthroplasty, replacement of either the inner or outer half of the knee joint, is done in the hospital. You must be admitted to the hospital on the day of the surgery and can expect a stay of from three to five days. When you are discharged form the hospital arrangements will be made for you to have a physical therapist that comes to your home. You will be allowed to stop using crutches or a walker when you are safe without them. When you are home from the hospital you may shower but should not soak the incision until after the stitches are removed. We will see you back in the office about two weeks after your surgery for suture removal and to check on your progress.

Visit the Zimmer web site for more information.
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New Mexico Cartilage Restoration Center Albuquerque orthopedic specialists