Knee arthroscopy is the commonest procedure I do, with several hundred per year. Almost always, I can do the work through two small incisions either side and just below the knee cap which are just big enough to allow a telescope and another instrument into the joint. The telescope is less than 5mm in diameter, but gives me a very good view right around the lining of the joint. The other small incision lets me do the work with various fine mechanical and motorised instruments.
The wounds which I use are too small to have stitches & you wake up with dressings and a big soft bandage. I put some local anaesthetic into the wounds and the joint so that it is a bit numb for some hours after the surgery. After a routine arthroscopy, you are allowed and encouraged to put all your weight through the leg and continue to move it through a full range.
Following any surgery, the exercises which you are given by the physiotherapist (with a written set of instructions), are very important and this is often neglected following a knee arthroscopy to deal with a cartilage tear, leading to an unnecessary delay in healing. Following the operation, you will have a big bandage which can be taken down at about two days and you need to keep the wounds clean and dry until they have healed over in about ten days time. I usually tell professional footballers that following a simple knee arthroscopy that they need to be out for about three weeks, although occasionally players have got back on the field at ten days. On the other hand, it is sometimes four to six weeks before you are feeling the full benefit. I usually recommend a week or two off work, more if your work is heavy. Following more major procedures, it will take much longer and in particular, after a micro fracture (see knee articular), it will be at least four months before you will be back to full function despite being up and about on crutches on the day of the operation. It is a minimum six months after knee ligament reconstruction (see rehabilitation).