Preparing for knee surgery 

Before having knee surgery, you may need to wait for any swelling to go down and the full range of movement to return to your knee.

You may also need to wait until the muscles at the front of your thigh (quadriceps) and the back of your thigh (hamstrings) are as strong as possible.

If you don't have the full range of movement in your knee before having surgery, your recovery will be more difficult.

It's likely to take at least three weeks after the injury occurred for the full range of movement to return. Your GP may refer you to a physiotherapist to help you prepare for surgery. 

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists, or physios, are healthcare professionals who use physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to encourage healing. A physio will be able to help you regain the full range of movement in your knee.

Optimising the muscle function in the knee will help to ensure a more successful outcome after surgery. It may also provide the knee with sufficient stability, so that surgery may not always be necessary.

Your physio may show you some stretches you can do at home to help keep your leg flexible. They may also recommend low-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling. These types of activities will improve your muscle strength without placing too much weight on your knee.

You should avoid any sports or activities that involve twisting, turning or jumping.

Read more about easy exercises and physiotherapy.

Pre-admission clinic 

Before having anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, you'll be asked to attend a pre-admission clinic. You'll be seen by a member of the team who will look after you while you're in hospital.

A physical examination will be carried out and you'll be asked about your medical history. You may also need to have some investigations and tests, such as a knee X-ray.

You'll be asked about any tablets or other types of medication you're taking, both prescribed and over-the-counter medication (bought from a pharmacy).

A member of your care team will also ask about any anaesthetic (painkilling medication) you've had in the past, and whether you experienced any problems or side effects, such as nausea.

They'll also ask you some questions about your teeth, including whether you wear dentures, caps or a plate. This is because during the operation a tube may be put down your throat to help you breathe, and any loose teeth could be dangerous.

The pre-admission clinic is a good time to ask any questions you have about the procedure. However, you can discuss any concerns with your surgeon at any time.

Read more about preparing for surgery.

Preparing for hospital

It's a good idea to be fully prepared before going into hospital for surgery. Below is a list of things to consider if you're about to have an operation.

  • Do your homework – find out as much as you can about your operation and what it involves. Information or a video about the procedure may be available at your hospital. Ask your surgeon if you're unsure about anything.  
  • Other medical problems – ask your GP to check that any other medical problems you have, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), are under control.
  • Keep clean – have a bath or shower before going into hospital, and put on clean clothes. This will reduce the chances of taking unwanted bacteria into hospital.
  • Eating before your operation – anaesthetics are often safer if your stomach is empty, so you'll usually have to stop eating several hours before your operation. You should be given more advice about this during your pre-admission clinic.
  • Prepare for returning home – stock up on food that's easy to prepare, such as tinned foods and staples like rice and pasta. You could also prepare meals and put them in the freezer. Put things you'll need, such as books and magazines, where you can easily reach them.
  • Arrange help and transport – ask a friend or relative to take you to and from hospital. You'll also need to arrange for someone to help you at home for a week or two after you come out of hospital.

Read more about having an operation.


Page last reviewed: 16/07/2015

Next review due: 16/07/2017