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How to Sleep After Meniscus Surgery?

Getting a good night’s sleep when recovering from meniscus repair surgery is something most people struggle with.

Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries not only affecting athletes but people of other ages as well. According to Web MD, the tear can happen in almost 40% of people in the age bracket of 65 and above.

Usually, when someone refers to a torn cartilage in the knee, they are talking about a Meniscus tear which may have happened due to hyper-flexion or extreme twisted movement, especially when they burden their knee-joint with full-weight.

The most common treatments are physiotherapy and knee thermoscope but the treatment depends on the age of the patient and condition of their meniscus.

Potential Problems and Pain After Meniscus Repair Surgery

The recovery is highly dependent on the type of treatment you have received. The treatment for repairing the meniscus through arthroscopy will take longer to recover because of less blood supply to the area.

Any type of Arthroscopic surgery includes complications such as risk of blood clots and swelling of the area as well as infections. It’s a low-risk procedure but will cause some physical difficulties post-surgery such as walking and sleeping problems, for which you might need a physiotherapist to help you recover from meniscus surgery.

Best Sleeping Position Post Meniscus Surgery (Knee Arthroscopy)

After any kind of surgery, choosing the right sleeping position is crucial to ensure a timely recovery. Here are some simple yet practical tips that will help you sleep better after meniscus repair surgery:

1. Sleep on your back, with legs elevated

sleep on back

Lying on your back with your legs slightly elevated is the best sleeping position after knee surgery. You can use a leg elevator pillow to elevate your legs which will help encourage blood flow. It’s the best way of not causing any accidental bumps in the incision area, thereby reducing the chance of an infection or bleeding. Keep your feet pointed towards the ceiling to avoid any unconscious twist or turns of the knee.

2. Side Sleeping on the “Good Leg” Side

Sleep on the side of the non-operated leg while bordering some pillows in between your legs to keep them stable and your operated leg safe from colliding. Your incision area must face the ceiling. Don’t cross your legs.

3. Sleep in a Zero-gravity reclining chair

Sleeping in a recliner is a great option when it comes to promoting healthy blood circulation. It will stabilize your knees, avoiding the development of infections. You can also place a small cushion vertically to avoid leg pain after meniscus surgery.

Anatomy of the Knee

anatomy of knee joint

The knee is structured by three bones: Shinbone (tibia), thighbone (femur) and kneecap (patella). Some tendons secure the muscles around these bones; while cartilage and ligaments maintain the fluidity of the knee’s movement.

The knee-cap or patella, as obvious by the name, is protectively situated above the point where Tibia and femur meet. Wedged between the Tibia and Femur bones are two cartilages that act as cushions and are rubbery. These are called Menisci and they help to keep knee-joint stabilized and regulate the legs movement by absorbing shock from the upper and lower leg bones. They also distribute the weight of the body when it moves.

Tendons are chains of tissue that keep muscles and bones intact. Ligaments are the strong tissue cords that conjoin bones. There are different types of injuries related to these knee components, most of them can be treated at home but others need prompt medical attention.

Common Knee Injury Types

1. Knee Strain

A common injury that happens when there is a tear between muscle fibers or tendons is Knee strain. This should not be confused with the injury of the bone or Meniscus tear. It can be easily treated at home by ice or pain soothers. It occurs as a result of extreme knee activity such as exercise, too much walking and is common among full-time workers and athletes.

2. Knee joint dislocation

Compared to knee strain, this is a traumatic event for the knee as Shinbone (tibia) gets detached from thighbone (femur), which happens due to injurious activity, a car accident or a dramatic fall. It requires urgent medical attention as the bones have to be re-positioned with a procedure called Reduction after which, the surrounding ligaments, blood vessels and other parts of the knees are examined because in a knee-joint dislocation, they can also get damaged.

3. Meniscus Tear

meniscus tear

As we mentioned before, the menisci are the cartilages between the tibia and femur. These are two cartilages: Medial meniscus, a C-shaped cartilage located inside the knee and lateral meniscus, a U-shaped cartilage located on the outside of the knee. When they tear down due to high-sporting activity, the result is usually swelling or stiffness. It is called a bucket handle tear.

However, in aged people, the meniscus gets degenerated over-time and is the cause for osteoarthritis caused by a radial tear as more force is exerted on articular cartilage.

The condition of Meniscus tear can only be deducted through X-rays or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The process involves examining the internal and external zones of Meniscus to deduce whether it can repair on its own or needs extensive Arthroscopic surgery.

Arthroscopic surgery is a process in which a small camera is inserted in the joint to identify the damaged Meniscus and treat it through incisions. The procedure in which a surgeon happens to remove the torn part of the cartilage is called meniscectomy. Minor meniscus raptures can be removed to relieve the problems with partial Meniscectomy. This treatment is about repairing the meniscus without having to remove it and has prolonged prognosis compared to extensive Meniscectomy.

How to Sleep After Meniscus Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sleep on my side after arthroscopic knee surgery?

You can sleep on the good leg side while carefully positioning pillows between your knees. Sleeping on your side should be the last option if you are unable to sleep on your back. Though sleeping on your back with straight legs is a great position to protect your incision area and avoid any torn meniscus pain at night. Sleeping on your back allows you to have the best position for leg after knee surgery. The goal is to sleep in a position where there is a minimum chance of putting unnecessary pressure on your operated leg while you sleep.

Can you bend your knee after meniscus surgery?

Bending knee after meniscus surgery will increase pressure on meniscus; therefore, your surgeon will restrict knee movement. Bending also depends on your type of meniscectomy. You can bend the knee after removing the knee brace while sitting in the 1st week. Usually, after six weeks, you are allowed to bend the knee while walking.

How long after meniscus surgery can I drive?

Resuming normal activities such as driving can take as long as your knee won’t need crutches or knee braces. You have to avoid narcotic drugs 24 hours prior to driving and should be able to change your foot pedal to pedal easily.

How long does it take to recover from torn meniscus surgery?

The recovery period depends on your type of surgery. In partial meniscectomy removal, patients can be off-crutches, don’t need a brace, and can return to light work in 1-2 weeks, and full recovery occurs in 8-10 weeks. In extensive meniscectomy, the recovery time is about 3-5 months.

How long does Knee stay swollen after meniscus surgery?

Post meniscus surgery swelling is a sign of inflammation and part of a normal healing process. It will stay for a few weeks. Use an ice-pack to reduce inflammation. A simple treatment called RICE: Rest, Ice, compression and elevation will get you great results.

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