Total knee surgery is a common treatment for arthritis and involves removing the damaged parts of the bone and providing a new prosthetic knee joint. Here you will find answers to the most common questions about recovering from the operation.
Is pain after surgery common? Yes, it is normal to experience pain after knee surgery for a few weeks as the skin, muscles and bone have been cut and take time to heal. This normally settles down within a few weeks
When can I return to work? Usually 6-8 weeks after your total knee surgery, depending on what the job entails
What activities can I do? Activities that don’t put too much force through the knee such as walking, swimming and gently cycling. Start off slowly and gradually increase how much you can do being guided by your knee
What activities must I avoid? Anything that put stress on the knee eg tennis, badminton, contact sports (such as football, rugby, baseball), squash or racquetball, jumping, squats, skiing, or jogging. Do not do any heavy lifting (more than 40 lb) or weight lifting
Can I play golf? Yes, but do not wear spiked shoes as they cause the knee to twist too much
When can I have sex? 4-6 weeks after your total knee surgery
When can I do housework? For the first 3 months, stick to light chores such as washing up dusting. Avoid standing for long periods eg ironing as it can cause your knee and ankles to swell. After 3 months you can return to other housework such as hoovering
What about Airport Metal detectors? Knee replacements do not normally set them off, but if they do, security may want to see your scar as proof of your operation
How long do I need to do exercises for? Until you have regained full range of movement of your knee (can fully straighten it and bend it at least 120°), and good strength in the muscles. Even when you have achieved this, it is worth continuing with your exercises 2-3 times weekly to keep your new knee in its best condition. See the knee replacement exercise section for more info
How do I know if I’m overdoing it? A bit of discomfort when doing something doesn’t mean you need to stop. It should however settle within 30minutes. If pain continues for more than 2 hours after stopping the activity, that is a sign you overdid it. Next time, reduce the intensity or time you do the activity for. If an activity causes immediate severe pain, stop
How long will the knee replacement last? 85% of knee replacements last at least 20 years
Will the doctor keep seeing me? Yes. You will usually have follow up out-patient appointments after 6-12 weeks after total knee surgery. You will be seen again after 1 year and then every 5 years where they will x-ray the knee to ensure there are no problemsWhat happens if my knee replacement fails?
You would undergo a revision knee replacement, which means they repeat the procedure
If you want to know more about total knee surgery, visit the sections below:
Including how to tell if you would benefit from surgery
Surgery: What actually happens during the operation
Rehab: Including what you can do to get the best results
Recovery: Including a guide to when you can return to activities
Common Problems: A guide to the most common problems associated with knee replacement surgery
Partial Knee Replacements: Less invasive surgery where only one side of the knee is replaced
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