Knee replacement aftercare
What can I expect after my knee replacement?
It is helpful to know what to expect from knee replacement aftercare. This can often help with any nerves or anxiety you may have before your operation. When you meet with your surgeon for your consultation, they will discuss the procedure and the more specific aftercare details with you. They will address any concerns you have about your recovery and answer any questions you may have.
After your surgery, you will be given an appointment to return for a follow-up. This is generally 10-14 days after your surgery. During this appointment your surgeon will review your progress and check that you are recovering as you should be. They will examine your knee and remove any drains or stitches if necessary.
How will I feel after my knee replacement?
This will depend on what anaesthetic agent your anaesthetist uses for your surgery. If they use a local anaesthetic agent you will be awake for the duration of the surgery. You will feel numb from the waist down for a few hours but this will begin to wear off with time. Pain relief will be available for when this happens. If you choose to have a sedative in addition to your local anaesthetic, you will feel drowsy for a few hours after surgery but again, this will wear off with time.
If your anaesthetist uses a general anaesthetic, you will wake up gradually after your surgery. You may feel a little groggy but this will wear off within a few hours. Pain relief will be available for when you need it. Your concentration and memory may be affected and will take 1 or 2 days to return to normal.
When will I be able to go home after my knee replacement?
You will usually stay in hospital for 3 to 5 days after your surgery. This will depend on how well you are recovering. If your surgeon has any concerns about your recovery, you may have to stay a little longer. They will be able to give you a more specific time-frame when they assess you after your operation.
Will I be able to drive after my surgery?
No. You will be unable to drive for a period of time after your surgery. Generally this is for 4 to 8 weeks, but can extend to 12 weeks if your surgeon has concerns about how you are recovering. Your surgeon will be able to give you a more specific time-frame regarding driving again when they examine you after your surgery. It is important to follow your surgeon’s advice carefully to protect both yourself and others on the road. We advise that you check with your insurer what their policy is for driving after a knee replacement.
When will I be able to return to work?
This will depend entirely on what sort of work you do and how you recover after surgery. If you have a sedentary job where you sit down a lot, you should be able to return to work from 2 to 6 weeks after your surgery. You should elevate your leg when possible and take regular, short walks to keep your knee joint active.
If your job involves light activities, then you can probably return to work around 6 to 12 weeks after surgery or when you can walk without a limp. For more physically demanding jobs, you will probably have to wait around 12 weeks before you can return to work.
This is general information we provide to all patients. Your surgeon will be able to give you more specific information which is tailored to you and your circumstances. Make sure that you follow their knee replacement aftercare instructions carefully.
When will I be able to exercise again?
Active recovery from a knee replacement is vital to keeping mobile and regaining strength. You will probably begin moving your knee from 1 day after surgery. A physiotherapist will help you with walking and moving around after your knee replacement. You may have to use a crutch or a walking stick for the first few weeks.
Your physiotherapist and surgeon will give you more specific advice on when you can start to re-introduce certain activities back into your routine.
Although it is important for you to rest after your surgery, it is equally important that you do not remain in bed all day. Taking regular short walks is vital to helping reduce the risk of blood clots formation.
How can I look after my scars?
When your surgeon removes your stitches and your wounds are fully healed, your surgeon may recommend a particular scar care regimen. This may involve daily scar massage using a scar gel or a moisturiser. As your scar becomes less tender, you may be able to increase the pressure of your massage to smooth out any lumpiness in the scar tissue. When out in the sun, it is important to cover up your scar or use a high-SPF sun screen to avoid discolouration. You can ask your surgeon for more scar care tips during your follow-up appointment.
The above information we have provided is generalised to all patients. It is absolutely vital that you follow your surgeon’s specific knee replacement aftercare advice to ensure that you get best results possible.