Arthroscopy Surgery and the First Few Days of Recovery

Here is the position of the body and the traction they use to pull the leg while performing the surgery.

Arthroscopy Surgery and the first few days of recovery is a different experience for everyone. This is my experience.

The surgery itself is generally one-and-a-half to two hours long, done as an outpatient procedure as it is minimally invasive. The surgeon makes three small incisions, one for the camera and the other two for small instruments to get into the joint and do the job. In my case, they had to shave down the bone to eliminate the bone spur and repair the torn labrum. One thing I wasn’t aware of, and found out when I woke up, was that the foot is strapped into a boot to pull the leg and create traction of the hip for the surgeon to get into the hip socket for the procedure.

When I woke up,  my hip was numb, my low back was very painful as well as my ankle. I mean PAINFUL!!! I was extremely confused as to why my ankle would hurt until someone explained what they had done. They put my ankle on ice, gave me more pain medication and nerve blocked my whole entire leg. I’m honestly glad I didn’t know about this beforehand as it would have caused me a lot more anxiety before the surgery. I arrived at the hospital at noon and was home by 9:30pm. Originally we were told it would be a five hour day but I’m just grateful that it wasn’t my surgery that had the complications, which is why they were running late. It was the unfortunate person before me.

After being in recovery at the hospital for awhile, I tried to get from the bed to the wheelchair. I came so close to falling as my right leg had no feeling; it was so scary.  I was then overcome by nausea and couldn’t breath with my mask on. I thankfully still had my IV in so they quickly gave me an anti-nausea medication. We then headed home but I unfortunately couldn’t sleep at all that night.

My right leg was still very much swollen after the procedure.
My left hip wrapped in the cooling pad and set in the CPM machine.

The next few days for me were a challenge. I needed way more help than I had anticipated. The main reason for that was because I had fractured my left elbow on June 7th. Using crutches was harder than I thought it would be.  The next morning I put my leg in the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. It moved my leg for me in order to reduce swelling and not allow my leg to stiffen up. I was told to put no weight on my right leg at all and not to move it or lift it myself so just getting my leg into the CPM machine was interesting. I discovered I could use my left leg to lift  the right. I was instructed to use the machine four hours a day. Once I was able to get on the exercise bike for 20 minutes, I could cut it down to three hours on the CPM machine.  I tried to manage one hour at a time and each day I had to increase the extension and the flexion numbers by 7-8 degrees per day. I started out at 30 degrees of extension and 70 degrees of flexion the day after surgery. By day 7 I was at 0 extension and 115 degtrees of flexion.

The first week I was able to attend physical therapy three times.  The PT moved my leg around in very small circles manually at the hip joint to be sure the joint was moving smoothly. She massaged my leg to release the swelling and then put my hip on ice and E-stim (electrical stimulation). The E-stim machine sends mild electical pulses through the skin to help stimulate injured muscles or manipulate nerves to reduce pain. All of this was helpful for me and I looked forward to my PT sessions.  In my next blog I will continue my Journey.