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Author Topic: Three weeks post lateral meniscectomy - lots swelling, unable to straighten  (Read 4897 times)

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Offline mwilson

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I had a right lateral meniscectomy and removal of crystals from my knee three weeks ago yesterday. My knee was wrapped in an a large gauze bandage and covered with a large tensor bandage for two weeks post surgery.  While the knee was wrapped I continually felt like I couldn't straighten my knee, but thought the large bandage was hindering my range of motion. When the bandage came off my knee was noticeably swollen, I had some blisters from the steri strips that were used to cover the port holes and I could not straighten my leg. Before the surgery I had good range of motion of my knee (except when it locked).
The surgeon didn't seem concerned with my complaint of being unable to fully extend my leg when I saw him last week, stating he felt my left knee hyper extended a bit and that maybe my quad muscles were not firing properly yet in my right knee. He gave me the go ahead to return to work ( I work in nursing and I am on my feet 8 hours a day). and told me to "live life, just take it slowly to start". I returned to work two and a half weeks post surgery, still feeling like I am unable to fully straighten my leg and with, I think, a large amount of swelling to my knee. The swelling starts about 2 inches above my knee and extends down through the whole knee. I can bend my knee to about 90 degrees before I feel pain and like my knee will explode. I am icing my knee 3 -4 times a day. I haven't been referred to physio, and I am unsure at this point as to what to do. Is this amount of swelling and restriction to my range of motion normal 3 weeks post op?? I have had two other partial meniscectomies on this knee (20 years ago) and certainly don't remember having these kinds of problems. I don't have an appointment to see the surgeon again.
Any ideas as to what I should be doing???

Offline LindaM

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Hi there,

sorry to hear things are not going well.  You are really pushing things being on your feet 8 hours a day if you are still swollen.  You just don't have the chance to really get your feet up for long enough to be really helpful.  Are you elevating your feet at night yet?  If you are on pillows you are probably just kicking them away during the night.  I found that by making a wedge of blankets from my hips to the end of the bed with a height of 6-8 inches at the foot I could move at night and roll to my side but still have my legs up all night.  You might want to try it.

I understand that feeling of not being able to fully extend your knee.  I limped for 9 months with my knee bent before my first PKR and my knee wouldn't extend before surgery and was worse after.  I had a tough time getting it back,but learned from my mistake.  When the second knee went I worked really hard to keep it straight before surgery.  You should never put that comfortable pillow under your knee when you are sitting with your legs up.  Put it under your heels instead and let your knee be unsupported-this will help you gently stretch the knee back to full extension.  You can also sit on a chair using another chair of the same height as a footstool with your knee unsupported to do the same thing on a break at work.

By all means do whatever you need to get into physical therapy asap and since it was 20 years since your last meniscus surgery, you might want to look on this site or search for exercises after meniscus surgery to do until you get seen by a physical therapist.
You need to be working on your range of motion and strengthening right now, not letting it go until you are in therapy.  I started PT the day after surgery and it lasted 6 weeks, so you can understand my concern about delaying.

With my surgeries I have had problems with swelling and sometimes still do.  I have found that when I have my feet up during the evening some gentle lymphatic massage really helps get the fluid moving out of my knee.  Just start stroking upward softly from mid-calf to groin for about 10 minutes at a time.  I try to get it in 3 times during the evening.  Hope it helps!

Good luck and good healing :)

>20 yrs. osteo and inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia
meniscus repair Sept. 2009
right PKR June 2010
left PKR Feb. 2012

Offline mwilson

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Thanks for the suggestions Linda!

I called the OS yesterday to ask about the swelling and decrease in ROM. I spoke with his nurse/secretary and she felt what I was experiencing was "normal" but would ask the OS and call me back. I haven't heard anything yet.
I have not been referred for PT, so will look for exercises to do at home.
The swelling is a little better today, I have been off of work the past two days. I have two more shifts to work this weekend and the have booked 2 weeks vacation seeing as the OS didn't provide me with a sick note for more than 2 weeks.

If I don't hear back from the OS today I will think about calling my family doctor. I continue to be unable to straighten my knee,  and bending past 90 degrees hurts with lots of pressure.

Thanks again :)


  • MINIgeek (20-50 posts)
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Hi im no expert but i certainly know the feeling your having, it took me 5 weeks to break past the 90 barrier, one exercise i found helped was sitting  and letting the leg hang naturally, im 8 weeks in recovery now i can get 120.

i still cant get the leg fully staight mind and its still swallen stiff, but its getting there   hope you get similar results soon.

Offline mwilson

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Thanks SilentMountain :)
I am know almost 4 weeks post op, swelling has decreased somewhat, although it is still visably swollen.
I can now bend my knee a little bit past 90 degrees before it gets too tight to go any further. I still cannot straighten my knee, which really concerns me.
The OS suggested a couple more weeks off of work and assures me my ROM will come when the swelling goes away. I am not sure I am convinced.
How is your range of motion coming along?