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"I have fluid on my knee after surgery. Should it be drained?"

ZocdocAnswersI have fluid on my knee after surgery. Should it be drained?


I had arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus. I have used Ice compresses every 20 minutes on and then off for the last 3 weeks with no relief. I also tried heat/ice and no relief. It is painful and hard to work or bend.


I'm sorry that you're postoperative course has been difficult. I recommend that you speak with your orthopaedic surgeon. It is not unusual to have knee swelling for a couple of weeks after arthroscopic surgery, especially since sterile water is pumped through your knee during surgery to expand the joint. Moreover, while much of this sterile water is vacuumed out of your knee at the end of surgery, your knee will still swell after surgery because of the trauma or surgery itself. The key to recovery after knee surgery is consistency and following the multi-modal principles outlined by the acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In terms of Rest, while it is important to stay mobile and walking after surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots, it is also important to make sure you rest your knee frequently. Walking is important after surgery to prevent blood clots, but also know that it will irritate your knee and cause it to swell to; hence, adequate rest after walking is important. Ice is more effective than heat after surgery, since it serves dual purposes of mitigating the inflammation and dulling the pain. Compression is also helpful, as it squeezes out all the edema and fluid from your knee; you can accomplish this by using an Ace wrap or neoprene knee sleeve as long as neither is too tight. Finally, elevation is very effective, as long as you remember that your knee must be elevated above the level of your heart; this is best accomplished lying down with several pillows under your knee. I would not recommend draining your knee since that entails inserting a needle into your knee, which can dangerously put you at risk for infection. Please see your orthopaedic surgeon should you develop worsening pain or swelling, and/or if you develop redness, warmth, drainage from your wound, or fevers and chills.

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