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Recovery & Support for Knee Cartilage Injuries

NYU Langone specialists offer postsurgical care and rehabilitation programs to help you heal from surgery for a knee cartilage injury.

Postsurgical Care

Your doctor may prescribe acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, which are also available over the counter, to help manage pain after surgery. Your doctor may also recommend elevating your knee and icing it for 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day, to manage pain and reduce swelling after surgery. A cold therapy machine, which automatically cools your injury over a 24-hour period, is another option.

After surgery, you may need to wear a hinged knee brace and use crutches to keep weight off the knee for a length of time determined by your doctor and based on the type of surgery you had. You may also leave the hospital with a continuous passive motion machine, a device that safely moves the knee joint for you, from six to eight hours a day for up to six weeks.

About 7 to 10 days after surgery, you visit your doctor, who checks on how well your knee is healing and removes your sutures. You may also discuss a physical therapy program, used to manage pain, reduce swelling, and improve range of motion in the joint.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center can create a tailored treatment plan to help you to return to your everyday activities and sports. Most people begin physical therapy immediately after surgery, and programs may range from 3 to 12 months based on the type of procedure you had.

Physical therapy may start with range of motion and stretching exercise to reduce stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joint. These are typically followed by weight-bearing and strengthening exercises of the leg muscles to help support the knee.

Your doctor determines when you are healthy enough to ease back into sports and more strenuous exercise. Using the most advanced equipment, specialists at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center can assess and refine your movements to help protect your knee from future injury.

Our Research and Education in Knee Cartilage Injuries

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.