Recovery from Knee Replacement Surgery


Knee replacement operations are extremely common. In the UK over 100 000 of them are performed per year, whilst in the USA this number exceeds 850 000 such surgical procedures.

Types of knee replacement surgery

In general, partial (unicompartmental) knee replacements are faster to recover from than total knee replacements (TKR), however when osteoarthritis is more established or the patient suffered significant trauma, the latter may be the only solution.

During surgery the damaged cartilage and bone are removed and a prosthetic joint is inserted which includes a plastic spacer that re-creates the smooth cushion which the knee requires to absorb some impact

The surgery takes around an hour, although more complex surgery such as revision procedures may go on for as long as a couple of hours.

Recovery after surgery

First patients are supported in a resus area where their vital signs and pain levels case be monitored.

They are then moved onto a ward for usually a day / overnight or longer if complications arise or individual needs dictate it.

On discharge, patients will be asked to;

  • Keep the surgical incision covered / dressed and clean
  • Ice the knee a multiple times per day
  • Elevate the leg regularly

Initially physiotherapy exercises will be simple, with the aim of improving range of motion of the knee as well as your mobility.

Manual therapeutic techniques to improve the prosthetic knee’s movement and thereby your functional abilities.

Your Physiotherapist will help to progress your exercises to enable you to return to your normal activities of daily living.

A few milestones to consider

  • You may rely on crutches or a stick for a few weeks
  • For 6 weeks you will not be permitted to drive
  • If you are in a physically demanding job role it is likely you will require an extended period off work

Further recovery after discharge

Once you have returned to daily activities and the Consultant and Physiotherapist are happy with your progress you will be discharged from their care. However, at this stage it is likely that you could still benefit from further rehabilitation.

We recommend you continue exercising for several months following discharge from the Consultant whether on your own or in group environments.

At the White House Clinic we offer Physiotherapist led hip & knee classes.

These group sessions enable you to perform lower limb specific strengthening and balance exercises in a supportive, friendly environment.

For more information on the class and to find out how to book please click here

James Walker

Service Development Director & Senior Physiotherapist

James is the Service Development Director and a Senior Physiotherapist at the White House Clinic. He qualified from Sheffield Hallam University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Physiotherapy in 2009.

James Walker

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