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Recovery Tracker

Days/Weeks Post Op How you might feel Things you can do safely Fit to work?

1 - 2 days

Your knee will be sore and swollen after the operation. You may have pain from where the scars are and on the site of the knee where the meniscus was dealt with. You will also feel a lot more tired than normal. Take things easy.

  • Get up, get dressed, move around the house.
  • Eat and drink as normal.
  • Do the exercises that your physiotherapist has taught you.
  • If you feel tired, rest for a while and try moving around again later.


3 days

There should be much less pain in your knee, but there will still be some swelling; use ice packs to reduce this. Your movement will be by no means full at this stage and you will still be stiff bending your knee. You’ll also get tired more quickly than you did before the operation.

  • Continue as days 1–2.
  • Go for a short walk in the morning – no more than 5–10 minutes – then go home and rest. Go for another short walk or two later in the day, resting between each one. This will help to avoid stiffness of the muscles and joints. Walking won’t harm you, but it may be a little uncomfortable.
  • You may still occasionally need to take a mild painkiller at this time

Not just yet

4-6 days

There should be very little pain now, though you will still feel tired as your body uses extra energy for healing. There may still be some swelling; if so, continue to use ice packs.

  • Continue as on day 3, building up the number of activities you do around the house, perhaps going for a slightly longer walk each day.
  • Keep track of your activities using the recovery diary – build up slowly and steadily.
  • Flying is best avoided in the first 4–6 days after your operation.

Getting there

7 - 13 days

You’ll probably be able to do most things as normal, most of the time, but you will still get tired now and again.

  • Continue to build up the amount of activity you’re doing towards your normal levels. Monitor your progress using the recovery diary, as earlier.
  • Walking, swimming, cycling and light exercise are allowed, as long as the wound is comfortable. Swimming: breaststroke can be difficult at this stage, so if you want to do a few lengths in the pool, you may find it easier to stick to front crawl or backstroke initially.
  • After days 7–10, you might want to test your fitness to drive.

Normally after day 10, on light duties or reduced hours

14+ days

You should be feeling stronger each day. You will still walk with a limp if you walk long distances, but you should be able to manage shorter distances without too much difficulty. Impact sports should typically be avoided for up to 6 weeks.

Talk with your doctor about going back to work (if you haven’t already).


2 - 4 weeks

Most people who’ve had the operation will be back at work by now, unless there are special circumstances – for example, their job demands a lot of physical exertion, heavy manual work or there are specific safety considerations.


6 weeks

If you haven’t had any complications to do with your surgery, or you don’t have a particularly physically demanding job and you’re still off work, it’s possible that you’re feeling anxious about returning and could do with a bit of help from your GP and your employer. Talk with them both about a gradual return to work.

If you’re off for too long, there’s a risk of developing problems to do with anxiety, isolation and lack of confidence. These could affect your quality of life in the long term. Talk with your doctor about how best to avoid this becoming a problem for you. If you rest too much your knee will become very stiff, and will take much longer to heal. You will also lose physical fitness and it can be difficult to regain this when the knee settles down. If you don’t feel able to work at this stage, you should at least take the opportunity to exercise. Walking may be uncomfortable, but should not harm the knee. If you are unable to exercise as much as you are used to, be careful you do not eat too much and put on weight.



 Returning to sport

 If you really enjoy sport and are fit enough, many surgeons will suggest a simple, post-operation exercise protocol:

  • At 2 weeks you can use an exercise bike.
  • At 4 weeks you can use a cross trainer.
  • At 6 weeks you can start on the treadmill, as you are able.
  • By 8 weeks for most people, you can be back to sports.

When can I have sex?

 For many people, being able to have sex again is an important milestone in their recovery. There are no set rules or times about when it’s safe to do so other than whether it feels OK to you – treat it like any other physical activity and build up gradually.

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