How to recover from a Knee Replacement

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Undergoing any kind of surgery can be nerve-wracking, but for many people it’s the recovery process that can cause the most anxiety. It’s natural to want to be fully aware of what the recovery process is like after knee surgery, whether that’s a or partial knee replacement.

We’ve put together this quick guide to help reassure you around some of the main areas of concern around knee replacement recovery which you can reference if you have questions before or between consultations with our doctors.


How will I feel after knee replacement surgery?

You will probably feel quite groggy and out of sorts as you come around from the general anaesthetic. This is perfectly normal and will fade over time as you recover in a recovery room, will nurses on hand to help you feel as comfortable as possible. They will also conduct some tests around your blood pressure and temperature to ensure that everything is at the expected level.


What will the dressing on the wound be like?

After your surgery, you will have a large dressing on your knee which is designed to protect your wound from infection. There will also likely be a tube inserted in the area after surgery which aims to drain blood away from the area which was operated on in order to avoid excess blood collecting.

This dressing will need to be changed regularly during knee replacement recovery in order to keep the area clean and help to avoid infection.


When will I be up and about after knee replacement surgery?

It’s important to be walking with assistance as soon as possible following your surgery, which the nursing staff will be on hand to help you with and lead you through which will help with your knee replacement recovery.

One of the many advantages to choosing knee replacement surgery with Ramsay is that our orthopaedic nursing staff are experienced in supporting our patients through the initial post-surgery phase of recovery so we can ensure you can be home as soon as you’re physically ready.

We will help you get accustomed to walking with a frame or crutches so you can regain your independence during your knee replacement recovery stages. You will also probably be taught some additional exercises to help get some strength back in your knee and build your confidence back up. There will likely be some discomfort when getting back into using your knee, but this will fade over time.


When will I be able to go home after knee replacement surgery?

On average, most people will stay at one of our hospitals for around 2 to 4 days after surgery to kickstart the recovery process, build up confidence and ensure everything with your surgery has gone smoothly.

The overall timescale will be dependent on your progress getting back on your feet, how fit and healthy you are, and how extensive the surgery was. In some cases, your doctor may consider you for an enhanced recovery programme which can significantly reduce your stay in hospital.


What help will I receive with recovering from knee surgery at home?

Your experienced orthopaedic surgeon, nursing staff and physiotherapist will provide you with advice which can help you speed up the recovery process at home, such as exercises for after knee surgery, activities you should avoid and general information which you will benefit from.

It’s natural for you to feel tired during the first few weeks while the tissue around your knee replacement is healing, so following the advice from our team will help minimise risks and issues.

We will also offer you a follow up appointment with your dedicated consultant to check on your progress and help manage any concerns you may have.


How long will it take to go back to normal after knee replacement surgery?

Although recovery is a different journey for every patient, we estimate that you’ll be able to forego assisted walking and go back to walking normally after about 6 weeks. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be completely healed though. It can take up to 3 months for any swelling or pain to dissipate, and around a year before your leg start getting completely back to normal.

It’s during this period that you will need to get back into your usual routine and follow any exercises recommended by your physio to ensure your road to a full recovery is a smooth one. Gentle, low-impact exercises will be a good starting point for most patients, and your orthopaedic specialist at Ramsay will be able to help identify the best exercises for you.

Overall, it can take up to 2 years for your new knee to be completely healed and for your muscles to be fully accustomed to your knee replacement. Even after this point, we would recommend that you avoid any exercises which run the risk of you falling and impacting your knee replacement.


Tips for after your knee surgery

  • Avoid twisting at your knee as this can create complications for your recovery
  • Do not sit cross-legged during the initial 6 week period after your knee surgery
  • Do not put a pillow beneath your knee when sleeping as this can cause your knee replacement to be permanently bent
  • Do not kneel on your operated knee until your surgeon says you can
  • Follow the exercise plan from your physio as closely as you can – this will help to reduce stiffness but do not force your knee if you feel excessive resistance
  • Gradually decrease how much you rely on your crutches or walking frame as your leg feel stronger so you can start rebuilding your strength
  • Make sure that you manage any pain and swelling using the painkillers or anti-inflammatories prescribed by your doctor
  • Wear shoes with cushioned soles to provide ample support and avoid impacting your knee
  • When sitting, apply an ice pack or alternative wrapped in a towel to reduce swelling – roughly 20 minutes every 3 to 4 hours should be enough to help keep swelling down


About Ramsay Health Care

At Ramsay Health Care we are proud to work in partnership with some of the highest qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeons, ophthalmologist, orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, pain management consultants and physiotherapists in the UK. Our holistic care offers you the best treatment!

At Ramsay you won’t have to wait for an appointment for your knee replacement. Your treatment may be covered by medical insurance and self-pay packages are available on request. We have first class facilities and all self-funding and most privately insured patients can enjoy our Private Patient Pledge offering exclusive benefits including superb food, a relaxing environment, priority access and appointments to suit your lifestyle. Our aim is to help you feel like a guest as well as a patient.

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