Cycling After Knee Arthroscopy

Cycling is a low-impact exercise that places minimal stress on your knees.

Knee arthroscopy is a common medical procedure in which a small camera is inserted into the knee joint to evaluate and treat a variety of knee conditions. According to the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine, there are more than 4 million arthroscopic knee surgeries performed throughout the world each year. Arthroscopic knee surgery is a minor procedure that allows patients to quickly to return to the activities they enjoy -- including cycling.


Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is generally an outpatient procedure in which small incisions are made in the knee. A small camera is inserted into these incisions. The small camera projects images on a television screen so your surgeon can see your knee in greater detail. Your surgeon may be able to repair or remove damaged tissue surrounding your knee joint through the use of small surgical tools that are inserted into the incisions.


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Common Uses of Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy usually lasts 30 minutes to one hour depending on why you are undergoing arthroscopy. It is commonly used to repair or remove torn mensical cartilage as well as in the removal of loose bone and cartilage fragments. Your surgeon may also use this procedure to remove inflamed synovial tissue, reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament or to trim pieces of torn articular cartilage.



The recovery from arthroscopic surgery is generally much faster than traditional open knee surgery, which uses large incisions and is more invasive. You will need to keep your leg elevated as much as possible for the first few days following surgery to reduce swelling. You may also be required to use crutches for the first few days. When leaving the hospital, your knee will be covered in a bandage. You should avoid getting this bandage wet or removing it unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon. Physical therapy or knee strengthening exercises are often used to restore strength and range of motion to your knee following surgery. This will help to enhance the final result of your surgery.



Cycling is a low-impact exercise. Low-impact exercises place minimal stress on the joints of your lower extremities -- including your knees. Your surgeon or physical therapist will advise you on when it is safe to begin cycling. In fact, your physical therapist may even use an indoor cycling bike as part of your physical therapy appointments. According to the website of Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists in Colorado, road and stationary cycling both are acceptable forms of exercise. On average, you should be able to return to cycling four to six weeks following your surgery. This time frame largely depends on the type of arthroscopic surgery you had. For instance, you are likely to have a longer recovery period -- six to nine months -- if you had an ACL reconstruction as opposed to having inflamed tissue removed from your knee, which requires four to six weeks' recovery. Your surgeon will provide you with exact instructions on when you can begin cycling.


Cycling Mechanics

When beginning to cycle, you should start at 10 minutes per day and slowly add time until you are cycling for 20 minutes each day. You should position the seat so that your knee is almost fully extended while cycling. Start with the bike set on a low resistance and work your way up to heavier resistances. If you are unable to make complete cycles with your knee, start with half cycles and slowly work your way to the point where you are able to make full use of the bicycle.


Cycling Warnings

Slight discomfort when participating in cycling after knee arthroscopy is normal. You should not be experiencing pain while cycling following surgery. If you experience pain, discontinue cycling and contact your surgeon's office. If you continue to cycle through your pain, you may cause damage to your knee.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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