A Look at the Types of Knee Surgery and Making the Most of Your Recovery

May 29, 2020 | Articles

Getting the news that you might need knee surgery is a bit of a shock for anyone. Part of the anxiety surrounding any surgical operation stems from not knowing enough about what the process entails, the risks involved, and what future outcomes to expect. To set your mind at ease, we take a look at the types of knee surgery and why finding the right professionals to walk you through your journey is vital.

There are several types of knee surgery, and the kind you will undergo has a lot to do with what your condition is and where it is taking place. The three more common types we explore here include joint replacement procedures, arthroscopy, and osteotomy. We will also take a look at what recovery and rehabilitation entail for each.


Used to diagnose and treat conditions in the joint, an arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique. The surgeon makes a tiny incision and inserts a minuscule light and camera (arthroscope) into the knee, allowing the surgeon to view the structure of the joint on a monitor. From there, any visible problems can be investigated and corrected with thin surgical equipment. In the case of an arthroscopy, no incisions are made into large muscles and tissues, which means recovery is much faster. Knee conditions an arthroscopy surgery can treat includes:

  • Removing or repairing torn menisci in the cartilage.
  • Repairing a torn ligament inside the joint.
  • Removing torn pieces of cartilage.
  • Removing the joint lining that is inflamed.
  • Removing loose bodies (free-floating fragments of bone or cartilage).

Because this procedure is quick and less invasive, outpatients will be able to go home only a few hours after their operation. Pain medication after the surgery can be used to manage any discomfort, and keeping the entire leg elevated and using crutches during recovery is recommended. In about one to three weeks, driving will be possible, but full recovery can take anywhere between six to eight weeks.

Knee Arthroplasty Surgery

Sometimes called total knee replacement, arthroplasty is a standard procedure for conditions such as arthritis. This kind of operation is often only as a last resort, once there is no saving a damaged joint that makes daily functioning unbearable. The process entails removing the entire joint and replacing it with one made from a material such as metal or plastic. An arthroplasty will require a hospital stay of a few days, and pain management and blood clot prevention are prioritised during this time. Using a continuous passive motion machine has also been thought to decrease swelling and improve blood circulation, which leads to faster recovery times. Normal activities can usually be resumed within three to six weeks and driving between four to six weeks (as long as leg bending and muscle control allows for using the foot pedals).


An osteotomy involves altering the bones of the joint by cutting or reshaping them, or by realigning their structure. This is done to remove some weight from the joint and can also be done to correct a bone that didn’t healed in the right way. After an osteotomy, it is common to remain in the hospital for a day or two along with pain management. Moving will require crutches and the leg may need a cast or brace to keep it in place during healing. Recovery can take anywhere between three to six months before normal physical activities can once again be resumed.

Of course, the best way to ensure your surgery and recovery process goes well is to partner with the right medical professionals. At the Pretoria Hip, Knee & Shoulder Surgeons, you can trust our dedication, years of experience, and advanced knowledge in the field to see you through the journey. For more information, get in touch with us today.