If a conservative, nonsurgical approach is taken, the pain and swelling of a torn meniscus should resolve within a few days. Recovery and rehabilitation becomes a long-term commitment, making certain that the muscles surrounding the knee are kept strong to promote joint stability, maintaining an ideal body weight and avoiding activities that cause pain.
If knee arthroscopy is performed, the rehabilitation process balances swelling and healing. The goal is to return range of motion to the knee as soon as possible. Physical therapy is a common part of rehabilitation, and most therapists work with the orthopedic surgeon to return the patient to full function as soon as possible. Since the procedure is planned in advance, some health-care professionals advocate pre-hab. With rehabilitation prior to the procedure, the patient begins strengthening exercises before surgery to prevent the routine muscle weakness that can occur after an operation.
Once the swelling in the knee joint resolves, the goal of therapy is to increase the strength of muscles surrounding the knee and to promote and preserve stability of the joint.
Elite athletes return to practice within one to two weeks after surgery, but they are a motivated group of people who spend hours each day in rehabilitation. For most other patients, return to mild routine activity occurs in less than six weeks.
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