Purpose: Although knee arthroscopy is described as minimally invasive, return to activity has been poorly quantitated. Our purpose is to test the hypothesis that most patients return to unrestricted activity within 4 weeks after knee arthroscopy.
Methods: After prospective power analysis, 72 consecutive patients who underwent arthroscopic knee partial medial meniscectomy, partial lateral meniscectomy, chondroplasty, loose body removal, or synovectomy (or some combination thereof) by a single surgeon were included. Patients with Workers' Compensation claims were excluded. Postoperative instructions were standardized. Patients completed a diary preoperatively and at 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 weeks postoperatively indicating their highest International Knee Documentation Committee (subjective) level of activity, as well as whether activity was restricted for knee-related reasons.
Results: Preoperatively, 88% of patients described knee-related activity restriction. By 2 weeks postoperatively, only 74% described knee-related activity restriction, a significant difference (P = .039); this improved to 38% at 4 weeks and was only 4% at 20 weeks. In addition, 82% returned to light activity such as walking, housework, or yard work after 1 week, with 94% after 2 weeks and 100% after 4 weeks.
Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis: Most patients had no knee-related activity restriction 4 weeks after arthroscopy.
Level of evidence: Level IV, therapeutic case series.