What to Expect Before Knee Surgery

You have been diagnosed with a knee tear that requires arthroscopic surgery.

This may be a torn meniscus or torn ligament like the ACL.

Prior to the surgery, it is very important to try and regain full motion of the knee.

This means being able to fully extend it (or hyperextend it if you can with the other knee) and being able to get the knee to bend all the way.


How to Regain Full Motion before Knee Surgery

After an acute injury always ice your knee, but once the first 48 hours have passed, you should start using heat.

A warm soak in a bath helps get the motion back before knee surgery.

It also very important before the knee surgery to get your leg as strong as possible.

A simple exercise that won’t aggravate your knee is straight-leg raises. Lie on the ground face up, keep your knee locked straight and simply raise that leg towards the ceiling about 30 degrees.

This will strengthen your quads and not stress your knee. It is smart to avoid squatting activities if you have a torn meniscus prior to surgery as this may aggravate the knee pain or even make the meniscus tear larger.

Walking and biking as long as it does not cause more pain or swelling in the knee is fine prior to surgery as well.


Undergoing Pre-hab Before Knee Surgery

Some patients prior to knee surgery benefit from what we call “pre-hab.”

I find this benefits the patients who are not able to work on knee motion and strength prior to the surgery.

Most people can go for a few sessions and learn from a good therapist how to do the exercises at home.

If you have arthritis of your knee and are going for knee replacement surgery, you may not be able to get much motion back.

This is because the knee arthritis is actually blocking the knee from moving.

This being said, attempts at getting some motion back prior to surgery, even with severe arthritis, is a good idea.

So before your knee surgery work on getting your knee motion back. Gently stretch your quads and hamstrings.

Strengthening these 2 muscles will also speed your recovery after the surgery.

Ask your surgeon for a prescription for “pre-hab” if you think that would help you.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Sport and Spine and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.