It is common for people to want to return to the activities they love doing soon after suffering an injury. Even after surgery, they want to run a race or play in a sports tournament. When can you return to physical activity after knee surgery? Is returning to these types of activity too soon harmful? And how can you know when you’re ready?
In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I answer this question for someone who wants to do a very long hiking trip.
Lindy in NSW, Australia asks:
I have a lateral tear in the meniscus of my right knee that is waiting keyhole surgery to snip off the loose cartilage. As a public patient, I’m on a 12 month waiting list. My knee is usually slightly swollen, and I am concerned that I’m doing long-term damage from the swelling. Ibuprofen helps a little, but swelling persists. I am concerned about long-term use of it. My question is whether I am doing further damage by waiting.
Also, I’m booked to do a 700km trek fairly close to the surgery date. How much recovery time should I allow before undertaking the trek?
Patients return to activity fairly quickly after partial meniscectomy surgery, where the surgeon trims out the torn portion of the meniscus. No stitches in the meniscus need to heal, as in a meniscus repair, so they get back to sports and exercise much quicker.
Generally, patients won’t cause more damage in the knee by running or doing an intense physical activity in the days and weeks after surgery. They could aggravate the knee and make it take longer to return to 100%. Hiking might not be as physically demanding as jogging, but it is still hard on the knee.
In this video, I share my thoughts on how long it can take to do physical activity after knee surgery as well as how to return to those activities safely.
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