A knee replacement is a form of surgery that involves replacing a part or all of the knee joint with an artificial joint. It is performed when the joint has become damaged, worn or diseased.
The recovery process varies depending on the type of replacement you’ve had, and on your individual circumstances. It is important to follow specific instructions given to you by the hospital team.
Recovery in Hospital
After the surgery you will be given the pain relief that is right for you. This may include a switch you press yourself to administer medication. Your knee will be covered in a large dressing that will be changed regularly.
If everything has gone smoothly, you will usually be up and about 12 to 24 hours after your surgery. Physiotherapists will help you to stand with a walking frame, then gently progress how far you are able to walk. Once you are confident using a frame, you may be encouraged to use crutches.
Physiotherapists will teach you exercises you can do to gently improve the strength and range of movement in your knee. You may be offered a passive motion machine to use; this passively moves your leg to try to get your leg to move more freely.
It is normal for your leg to be painful when you start moving around. It may also be bruised and swollen.
Depending on your progress and the type of operation you have had, you are likely to go home between 3 and 5 days after your operation.
There is a range of equipment you can use at home to help make your life easier while you are recovering from your surgery. You can ask your hospital team if there are any particular activities you are worried about managing at home.
Your Physiotherapist will teach you exercises to do at home. It is important that you keep doing these exercises as advised once you are home, they will help you to make the most of your new knee!
Getting Back to Day to Day Tasks
You may be able to return to some leisure activities 6 weeks after your surgery. It’s best to avoid bending movements, such as cleaning low cupboards, and standing for long periods.
However, your knee joint will take up to 2 years to fully recover. If you wish to take part in extreme sports it’s best to discuss this with your Doctor or Physiotherapist.
You will usually be offered an appointment with your surgeon 6 weeks after surgery.
How to Take Care of your New Knee
Take medication as prescribed
Continue to do the exercises given to you
Do not sit with your legs crossed for 6 weeks after the operation
Do not kneel on your operated knee until the surgeon says you can
Raise your legs when sitting and use ice to help to relieve any swelling
Avoid sleeping with a pillow under your knee