Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Home Exercise Program
Right after Surgery
We want you to get back full range of motion after your knee surgery. It is safe for you to bend
and straighten your knee. You may walk and bear weight on your operative knee. We want you
to begin walking right away. Begin the exercises in one to two days. Do them daily. If an
exercise is painful, stop doing it. Please keep in mind that these are guidelines. You may need to
change what you do depending on your surgery, swelling, and level of pain.
If you have crutches bring them the day of your surgery. If you do not have crutches they will be
given to you in the hospital the day of your surgery. Your insurance will be billed for the
crutches but you may need to pay a portion of the cost. You may bear weight on your knee after
surgery. Slowly increase what you do, using pain and swelling in your knee as your guide.
When walking with crutches, walk as you always do, heel first then roll over the ball of your
foot. You may not need to use your crutches for more than 1-2 days. If you are having pain and
swelling, use the crutches as long as you need them. Elevate the leg as much as you can during
the first 48 hours after surgery. This will help to lessen the swelling. You should be able to walk
without crutches sooner when the swelling is gone.
Ankle Pumps: When lying or sitting, pump your ankle up, down, and around in circles several
times per hour. This will help the return of blood in your leg. Do ankle pumps with both
Toe Raises: Stand balanced on both feet. Gently rock up to your toes and back down to your
heel. Do 3 sets of 20 toe raises throughout the day.
Quad Sets: Tighten the group of muscles on top of your thigh (quadriceps) and try to straighten
(extend) your knee. You should be able to see and/or feel the muscle contract. Hold the
quad for 5 seconds. Relax the muscle completely. Repeat. Try to do 100 quad sets each day
in sets of 5-10.
Straight Leg Raises: Lie on your back, bend the good knee, and place that foot on the floor.
Perform a quad set and lift your other leg up 1 to 1.5 feet off the ground. Hold for 3-5
seconds, and then slowly lower your leg. Relax. This exercise can be done 2-3 times a day.
Each time try to do 3 sets of 20.
3 to 4 Days after Surgery
At this time you may feel stronger and ready to begin strengthening exercises. If you have access
to an exercise bike, you may begin to ride with the bike set at a low resistance. Begin riding for
about 5 minutes, then slowly increase your riding time over the next few days to about 20
You may also begin
Mini Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly bend about 60 θ to 90 θ at the
knees and then slowly stand back up. Keep weight balanced over both feet. You may need
to use the back of a chair for balance. Repeat 10 times; do 3-4 times per day.
Dr. Anderson’ patients should make an appointment with Physical Therapy 3-5 days after
Dr. Baer and Dr. Dunn’s patients should make an appointment with Physical Therapy for 3-7
days after surgery. The order for this visit will be given to you at your post-op visit.
Dr. Scerpella’s patients should make an appointment with Physical Therapy 5–10 days after
surgery. This appointment should be after your first post-operative clinic visit with Dr. Scerpella
(although it can be scheduled in advance). The order for this visit will be given to you at your
Dr. Graf’s patients may not have formal physical therapy. If he feels you need PT, he will talk to
you about it at your post-op visit.
When Should I Return to Work?
Your time off from work will depend on what type of work you do. If you sit for most of your
work day, you may be able to return to work within 2 days. If you perform heavy labor, you may
be off from work up to 6 weeks. You should discuss this with your doctor.
When Can I Drive?
You may begin to drive when you feel that you can react quickly, and it is not painful to drive.
Do not drive while taking narcotic pain medicines.
How Long Will My Recovery Take?
When you return to playing sports will be different for each person. This will depend on the
amount of damage to your meniscus and the joint surface. We will explain this to you at your
post-op visit. Most people do not return to high impact sports for about 4-6 weeks.
Follow-up visits to see Drs. Baer, Dunn and Graf should be made for 5-7 days after surgery.
Follow-up visits to Dr. Anderson should be made for 7 days after surgery.
Follow-up visits to see Dr. Scerpella should be made 7-10 days after surgery.
This appointment will be made at your work-up visit.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you
have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©7/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All
rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5062.