High levels of pain and disability can follow orthopedic surgery. How long the patient is laid up depends on many factors. Older age, smoking, obesity, and other problems like diabetes can put a patient at increased risk for problems after any operation.
Knee surgery is no longer thought of as "major" when it's done arthroscopically. The doctor uses a long thin instrument with a tiny TV camera on the end to look and work inside the joint. Two or three puncture holes are all that's needed. Large incisions to open the joint aren't needed.
Even so, some patients have quite a bit of pain after the operation. Recovery can be slowed down. Return to work may also be delayed more than expected. For this reason doctors try to control patients' pain in a variety of ways. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, cold therapy, acupuncture, and even hypnosis have been used.
Most of the time it's just a matter of getting on top of the pain and staying there during the first hours and days after the operation. Usually, this can be done with a non-narcotic pain reliever such as Tylenol. Sometimes Tylenol is combined with a mild narcotic for the first 24- to 48-hours. You shouldn’t have any problem if you follow your doctor's advice carefully.