Arthroscopic Post Operation Information

The following are post-operative instructions for patients who have undergone arthroscopic surgery. Please refer to this reference sheet, which should answer most of the questions you may have. If you have further questions, contact our office at (970) 879-BONE (2663).

Depending on the body part you had surgery on, you will most likely be provided with a brace or immobilizer of some sort. If it is lower extremity surgery you might receive crutches. Specific instructions will be given to you about your specific surgery.

You will have a bulky dressing over your surgical site. Although it is very unlikely, you may notice some bloody spotting coming through the outer Ace wrap/dressing. This is very normal after arthroscopic surgery because we use water during your surgery. Some of the remaining fluid may leak out and look like blood. It is important for you to watch this area and contact us if it continues to spread. Otherwise, any small area of spotting will dry and can be ignored until the dressing is removed. In many arthroscopic procedures the dressing comes off in two-three days and you can do this yourself.

The sutures utilized in closing any wounds are either an absorbable suture, nylon suture or staples. You are not to remove them under any circumstance. Sutures will require more time to heal and should only be removed by your doctor. This is usually done between 7-14 days. This may be shorter or longer depending on your procedure.

You may or may not be able to shower immediately after surgery based on the type of dressing that was applied at the end of your surgery. You will be told at the time of discharge from the hospital when you can shower. If there is any noticeable or
persistent drainage from the incision sites, or any surrounding red areas, please contact us immediately. You must not submerge your surgical site in water (e.g. hot tub or bathtub).

We try to schedule your first post-operative visit prior to your arthroscopic surgery. If you do not, we call all patients the day after your surgery and your first post-operative visit can be scheduled at that time. After minor arthroscopic surgery where no repair or reconstruction has been done, most patients can be seen for their first visit eight or nine days after surgery unless otherwise specified. If you live outside of the immediate Steamboat Springs area, special consideration is given and other arrangements can be made (e.g. you live in the Winter Park, Granby, Craig or Kremmling area).

Depending on the type of arthroscopic surgery you have undergone, you may or may not need physical therapy. This will be discussed both before and after your surgery. If you know you will be receiving physical therapy, you will be supplied with a prescription at your first post-operative visit or it will be faxed directly to your therapist.

You will be provided with a prescription for a pain medication when you are ready to leave the hospital. Usually we will prescribe Hydrocodone or Oxycodone. These are both generic names for two different narcotic pain relievers. If you are aware of a certain pain medication that you have previously had problems with, or one that you normally respond favorably to, please inform us so that we can give you the appropriate prescription. You may have the prescription prior to surgery to avoid filling it the day of surgery. You might also be given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory medication Toradol (ketorolac) that will help lessen pain and swelling. Tylenol and Acetaminophen are the same medicine. You should not use Tylenol if you are using the Percocet/Roxicet or Lorcet prescription medications since they already contain tylenol/
acetaminophen. If in doubt check the prescription label to be sure acetaminophen is not in your medication. We try and avoid over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve, Nuprin, etc.). If you have a history of ulcers or of stomach irritation with aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs, then you should avoid using Toradol. Please try to anticipate the need for any refills on your pain medication, and contact our office early in the day the day before running out completely. I cannot provide prescription refills after business hours or on weekends, so please plan ahead.

The incidence of an infection deep within the joint is literally less than 1/2 percent. Onset of symptoms would be approximately 5-7 days following surgery, and would consist of a significant increase in pain, swelling, warmth, and redness of the surgical area, fever, chills or night sweats. More common, but still quite rare, would be a small superficial infection or irritation at one of the skin incisions. There can also be a very small incidence of a blood clot developing deep within your arm or leg veins. This would be characterized by a sudden onset of new pain, usually different from your surgical pain. This usually begins about 5-7 days from the day of surgery. The presence or absence of a clot can usually be determined by a simple non-invasive ultrasound test at the hospital.

Contact our office for any concerns at 970-879-BONE (2663).