How Long Before You Are Able to Walk After Knee Surgery?


Quick Answer

After open ligament surgery, it takes patients two to three weeks to walk without the help of crutches, but after arthroscopic surgery, it takes less than two weeks, according to the AAOS and the NHS. The exact timeline varies with the patient's adherence to rehabilitative timelines and complications from surgery.

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Full Answer

After open ligament surgery on a knee, the surgeon closes the wound with stitches, bandages the cut and sometimes applies a cryocuff, a waterproof bandage holding iced water to cut down on swelling, states NHS. Over the first few weeks, swelling, bruising and redness on the ankle and shin are common, but they should disappear after a week or so. Patients also receive a series of exercises to begin in the hospital and continue at home, as well as crutches for the first two weeks. Patients may take the cryocuff home or use ice to manage swelling, and after a couple of weeks, they can generally walk independently.

Arthroscopic surgery involves much smaller incisions than open ligament surgery, states the AAOS. The surgeon views the inside of the knee through a tiny camera inserted into the knee joint and performs repairs or removal of cartilage, bone or inflamed synovial tissue by inserting small surgical instruments through incisions around the knee. Recovery is generally much faster than with open surgery, and patients can even drive within a week of arthroscopic knee surgery in many cases.

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