Knee Cartilage Injury
Recovery & Support
At UCSF Health, we are renowned for our highly specialized and cutting-edge medical care. Along with innovative medicine, we strive to provide a variety of services to ensure that patients and families are fully supported while in our care. UCSF has a team of experienced social workers and condition-specific support groups as well as classes to help patients and families navigate their experiences while in our clinics and hospitals.
Our support services also include unique programs to help heal the mind and spirit, such as Art for Recovery, Healing Through Dance and complimentary spa treatments during infusion therapy. During an unfamiliar and stressful time, UCSF's support services are ready to lend a hand whenever patients and families need it most.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When can I shower after surgery?
You should keep your dressing on and knee dry until your first post-op visit. After that, you'll likely be cleared to shower, but don't submerge the knee in a bathtub or swimming pool until the incisions have completely healed (usually three to four weeks after surgery).
- When will I have a follow-up appointment?
You'll see your doctor one to two weeks after surgery for a knee exam and suture removal. Typically, the surgeon's practice coordinator schedules this appointment before you have surgery.
- When should I start physical therapy?
You should start as soon as possible after surgery, generally within the first one to two weeks. Many patients have the first session right after their first post-op appointment.
- How long will I be on crutches?
Most likely, you'll use crutches for six to eight weeks after surgery, depending on the exact procedure you had and on any other structures that were repaired.
- Are cold therapy machines best for pain relief?
You can use a number of icing methods, such as placing a regular ice pack or package of frozen vegetables over the bandages. Cold therapy units recirculate ice water through a pad over your knee. They're effective yet somewhat expensive. They can be purchased online, in medical supply stores or at our orthotics and prosthetics centers.
- When can I return to school or work after knee cartilage surgery?
Most patients are ready to return to school or work at a desk five to seven days after surgery. If you're able to work from home, your initial recovery period may be easier. For a physically demanding job, you will need more time for a safe recovery and medical clearance before returning to work.
- When can I drive after knee cartilage surgery?
That depends on which leg had surgery. If it was your left knee and you drive an automatic car, you can get behind the wheel once you're no longer taking narcotic pain medication and feel capable of driving safely. If you had surgery on your right knee, you may need to wait as long as six weeks before driving; your surgeon can advise you.
Support Services at UCSF Health
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.